Lifers make bid for early parole

In 2018, a Supreme Court judgement ruled ultra-long prison sentences unconstitutional, and noted that lifers become eligible for parole after 25 years behind bars.

26 November 2021 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH







WINDHOEK

Five men sentenced to ultra-long imprisonments are battling to be released on parole after serving more than half of their jail terms.

Immanuel Shikunga, who has served 26 years behind bars for a life sentence handed down in May 1995, lodged an application this month against prison authorities for their failure to release him on parole after having met all necessary requirements.

He said after more than 20 years in prison, he has qualified to be considered for release on parole, but his continued imprisonment has left him “with no hope of ever being released from incarceration”.

“I am now of a view that the respondents, irrespective of my good conduct within the correctional facility, now want to subjugate me to permanent incarceration with no hope of ever emerging from prison,” Shikunga’s court papers state.

He also said that he is “long overdue for release” and that - as part of his rehabilitation process - he should be placed in a “positive position” where he will be “open and exposed to the opportunities that may result in rebuilding a better life after 26 years in prison”.

Shikunga was convicted of the 1993 murder of former Omaruru mayor and veterinarian Ian Scheepers. Scheepers died after Shikunga, a former employee, stabbed him 23 times with a knife, while an accomplice held Scheepers down.

I want out

Another lifer making a bid for parole is Laurentius Koopman, who was sentenced 21 years ago for a 1998 murder and robbery.

This is not his first bid for early release. In 2012, he joined several others applying to the High Court for clarity on which policies govern the period after which lifers should be considered for parole. The application was later withdrawn.

He again made a bid for release in 2013, but his application was dismissed. The lifers argued that as per prison regulations and policies, they were due to be considered for parole after serving 10 years.

Koopman’s latest application claims he was authorised to be released on parole in October 2020, but was rearrested in February 2021 due to a decision that he was released erroneously. He has argued that his re-arrest was unjustified.

Blind eye

Brothers Mckenzie and Wynand Adams, who have spent 23 years in prison for a 1998 murder and robbery conviction, also filed an application this month accusing prison authorities and the safety and security ministry of the “undue delay and/or negligent and/or deliberate protraction in the release of applicants from incarceration”.

They argued that they were due for parole consideration 10 years into their sentence, and that after more than 20 years behind bars, it is clear that the Namibian Correctional Service “has turned a blind eye on the issue”.

The fourth application filed this month was by Wilfried Hijambura Siririka, who has accused relevant authorities of failing to consider him for parole after serving 13 years of a 20-year prison sentence, and of meting out “undue punishments” while he was behind bars.

Siririka was one of three men charged with the armed robbery of an 84-year-old Gobabis man in 2005, whom they robbed of several firearms, a Rolex watch and various currencies amounting to more than half a million Namibian dollars.

In 2018, a Supreme Court judgement ruled ultra-long prison sentences unconstitutional, and noted that lifers become eligible for parole release after 25 years behind bars.

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