Alleged inmate abuse at Oshikango
• BY MARX ITAMALO
THE police at Oshikango in Ohangwena region are accused of inhumane treatment of the inmates there, with allegations of food shortages, denying of medical attention and brutal beatings of detainees taking centre stage.
A source who tipped off Confidente this week said, she went to visit her brother several times last month and she gathered from him that on numerous occasions he had asked officers on duty to take him to the Engela Hospital for medical attention but that the officers on duty refused and accused him faking illness in order to get outside.
“My brother has got stomach problems and experiences a lot of pain at different intervals. When it starts he would need immediate attention because the pain is unbearable,” the source stated. According to her, she approached police officers last week to register her complaints and that they denied everything.
“The truth is that the police at Oshikango are not treating inmates well. How can you deny somebody the opportunity to go see a doctor?
What they are doing is wrong,” she stated adding that trial awaiting inmates should be not punished like criminals because they are yet to be found guilty by a competent court of law.
This source, who preferred anonymity further told Confidente that inmates at the police station are also allegedly not allowed to receive food from outside while at the same time the food they are served is not enough in most cases.
“We are told by our family members that on many occasions the food gets finished without all inmates having been fed.
That means there is an acute shortage of food and they are starving our relatives,” she stressed.
Confidente has also established from a resident of Oshikango, who was detained for two weeks at the station that there are cases of inmates viciously assaulted by police officers for petty issues like making noise.
“In March there was a guy who was beaten badly because he was allegedly making noise in his native Portuguese. They beat the poor guy badly but he was not taken to the hospital,” he stressed.
The victim allegedly did not take any action such as opening a case against his assailants because he feared further victimisation as he is a foreigner.
Another allegation levelled against the police at this station is that new recruits who arrived at the station recently were told to deal harshly with inmates who are said to be rebellious and mischievous.
“Inmates were told that a crop of new officers would soon arrive who will teach them unforgettable lessons,” he said.
A businessman from Katwitwi location confided in this publication that many police officers at Oshikango are entangled in a spider’s web of corrupt activities and that the matter is known by their seniors.
According to him, some officers confiscate goods brought in the country illegally from both Namibian and Angolan nationals and they keep them for themselves without handing them over at the station. This includes fuel and merchandise such as food, clothes and cosmetics.
This practice has seemingly become lucrative that one officer now patrols the border along Oshikango town with his own vehicle whereby he confiscates goods and takes them to his home at Onamhinda village near Oshikango. Senior police officers allegedly turn a blind eye.
Confidente could not get hold of Oshikango police station commander Inspector Mudjanima as his mobile phone has been off.
However, Ohangwena police spokesperson Sergeant Andreas Nghiyolwa on Wednesday refuted the allegations when contacted for comment.
“That cannot all be true. When it comes to health that is our priority. There is no way police officers can deny an inmate a chance to go to the hospital. Likewise the inmates are receiving enough food three times a day and we do this because we treat our inmates with courtesy and respect,” he said adding food from outside was only banned during the spike in Covid-19 cases as per health regulations at the time and that inmates are now allowed to receive food from friends and relatives.
Nghiyolwa promised to follow up on allegations of assaults and corruption on part of police officers.
“We call on anyone with evidence please to contact us so that we can investigate and see if we can detect wrongdoing from our part,” he said.