Stories from UNODC Southern Africa

Namibia First Lady Buoyed by UNODC Support to Correctional Facility


Namibia's First Lady Monica Geingos speaks at the inauguration of the UNODC-supported Female Centre at the Windhoek Correctional Facility last week

WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA - Namibia's First Lady Monica Geingos has pledged to lead efforts to furnish a child-friendly facility at the Windhoek Correctional Facility to support circumstantial children.

Circumstantial children are either born in prison or are under the age of four at the time they enter prison because of their incarcerated mothers.

The First Lady made the commitment last week after being touched by the plight of a female inmate who is serving a 17-year-long sentence for murdering her boyfriend in 2013. The inmate is being held in the female center at the correctional facility with her 15-month-old child.

Lady Geingos went to Windhoek Correctional Facility to officially inaugurate the Female Center, which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime supported with a fully furnished clinic. The refurbishment of the clinic was done with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) early this year.

The Commissioner-General of the Namibian Correctional Service (NCS), Raphael Hamunyela, told the First Lady that the new Center has the capacity to accommodate 108 female inmates and consists of two living units, a programmes area and a health clinic.

"In addition, the facility contains a child-friendly area, designed to provide children under the age of two a harmonic environment, which assists in strengthening or building bonds with their mothers," Hamunyela said.

He explained that the Center is meant to provide female offenders access to social and educational programmes that give them an opportunity to rehabilitate and be reintegrated into mainstream society as law abiding citizens.

"These programmes, of course, take into cognizance the uniqueness of women and their distinctiveness in their motives to perpetrate crimes," the Commissioner-General said. 

He added: "The inauguration of this Center would not be possible without the support of UNODC, which fully-furnished the health clinic."

On her part, the First Lady said she would act to alleviate the plight of circumstantial children in the facility.

 "Leave it to me. I will have it (the child-friendly facility) furnished. Until the age of two, it is critical for a mother to be with the child, whether it is for breastfeeding or bonding purposes," she said.

Hamunyela seized the opportunity to appeal to other stakeholders to support NCS in its quest to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders.

"The process of rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders is a huge task that requires concerted effort from all of us.  Therefore, assistance can be in the form of training officers and offenders, providing employment for those that are released, accommodation and helping in kind," he said.

He added: "We are confident that with your support, this Center will release well rehabilitated female offenders who can be effectively reintegrated into society, with renewed hope of a better and crime-free life."

The Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Namoloh, the Chairperson of the National Council, Margaret Mensah Williams and the Deputy Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, Lucia Witbooi were among the many dignitaries that were preset during the inauguration.