Prison service bans cellphones

05 March 2020 | Police

The Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) has, with immediate effect, banned the use of cellphones by staff during meetings and in the presence of Commissioner-General Raphael Tuhafeni Hamunyela.

Hamunyela issued the order during a staff address on Tuesday.

He said it had come to his attention that some staff are acting unprofessionally by recording what is said during meetings and then circulating this on social media.

He said another issue was that some staff members were making or receiving calls during meetings or leaving to make calls.

“These acts have been disturbing meetings and indeed have not been appreciated by the majority of attendants,” Hamunyela said.

He said apart from the use of cellphones during meetings, there have been incidents where officers have attempted to record him in his office when given an audience.

“Thus, I have ordered with immediate effect that no person will be allowed to have an audience with me while having a cellular phone, be it in my office or in any other office.”

Hamunyela further expressed concern about the abuse of leave by staff members, especially sick leave.

“I observed an alternated leave record of some officers, both at the national headquarters and other correctional institutions.”

He said from an assessment done by his office, it was observed that some officers get sick leave just before their vacation leave and others just afterward or when they are required to do certain tasks.

The assessment also indicated that leave records are not updated and some staff members do not submit leave forms to the personnel office.

Hamunyela said it also seems that some officers leave the areas where they live while on sick leave.

He said this was an indication that they go to the doctor to get sick leave while not really being sick.

“I have already directed your supervisors to look carefully at some of the suspicious sick leaves and also to keep leave records of all correctional staff under their command and conduct visits to ensure those on sick leave do not leave their jurisdiction area.”

Hamunyela said they need to know exactly who tops leave lists, especially sick leave, and this has to form part of the NCS annual report.

Hamunyela said this information has to be submitted to him by the heads of sub-departments by 13 March.

According to Hamunyela, the discipline of staff at national headquarters also remains a concern, with a tendency off staff members to commit disciplinary offences such as absence from duty, tardiness, leaving posts without permission and a lack of action.

He said that one of the main challenges is the lack of accurate information and data.

“On several occasions, I addressed the senior managers on the need for accurate data and information, but no improvement has been observed in these areas, as most of the reports submitted to my office lack accuracy, as they are not supported by accurate data.”

Hamunyela stressed that accurate information is needed for both strategic planning, policy formulation and decision-making and also to measure the performance of the entire organisation.

“We can no longer operate on thumb-sucked information when we are moving towards professionalism. Therefore, accurate information is not only crucial to guide policy and strategic planning, but it is a cornerstone for the realisation of our vision.”