Rundu holding cells survive Covid onslaught

26 October 2020 | Local News

Kenya Kambowe


Inmates being held at the Rundu police station holding cells can once again appear in court after the Kavango East health directorate lifted a recent suspension on their court appearances.

The suspension followed 47 out of 123 inmates testing positive for Covid-19.

The holding cells have also been declared safe to accommodate new inmates, but this will be done in accordance with advice from the health ministry.

At the time of the suspension earlier this month, no new inmates could be accommodated at the holding cells, leaving the police with no option but to transport inmates to other holding cells in the region, which proved to be a costly exercise.

Uneventful isolation

Inmates kept at the holding cells, who were due to appear in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court, were banned from doing so.

However, Kavango chief medical officer Abiola Adesina last week confirmed that the suspension had been lifted.

“It is my pleasure to inform you that a total of 123 inmates were tested, among whom 47 tested positive and have been discharged after having completed the 10 days of isolation uneventfully, according to the protocol,” he said.

“It is in the light of this we recommended the suspension of the ban on court hearings for the inmates from the Rundu holding cells as from 19 October, as they are now deemed safe to be in the public.

“However, the Kavango health directorate strongly urges all and sundry to adhere to the recommended guidelines and directives of the ministry of health regarding infection, prevention and control of Covid-19.”

Measures to be established

Adesina said it is recommended that quarantine measures for inmates from the Rundu police holding cells should be established.

Active case detection and testing of inmates and officials should commence, as well as the identifying of a suitable isolation facility for Covid-19-positive inmates, he said.

Kavango East police regional commander, Commissioner Johanna Ngondo, said they have taken note of the experts’ advice.

She said the Rundu police holding cells will only accommodate inmates from other holding cells who are appearing for serious cases in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court.

‘Will not take risks’

As for the accommodation of new inmates, Ngondo said they will not take the risk of mixing them with inmates already in custody.

She said newly arrested offenders will be transported to the Ndiyona, Divundu and Omega police holding cells.

She said arrangements can also be made with the Ncaute police holding cells in Kavango West.

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