Prisoner dies because there was no transport

Prisoner dies because there was no transport

THE death of a prisoner at the Usakos police cells was the result of negligence by the prison authorities, according to some of his fellow inmates.

Festus Goseb (39) died in the Police cells on December 26, at the feet of his cellmates who said they had tried for more than an hour to keep Goseb alive while waiting for a vehicle to take him to hospital. Norman Riekert, one of the inmates, told The Namibian that Goseb, who had been suffering from lung problems, started to cough and spit up clots of blood around 17h00.”It was really horrible; we watched him suffer and gasp for breath while we were helpless.For about an hour we were calling for help but there was no car to take him to hospital.”Riekert and other cellmates claim that the vehicle of the Usakos prison was being used for personal purposes by Sergeant Geoffrey Urib, who was on standby duty.When prison staff phoned Urib, he allegedly switched his cell phone off.Urib was allegedly spotted at a service station in town, but colleagues’ attempts to reach him there were also fruitless.According to Riekert, one constable tried to help and a nurse arrived later and declared that Goseb was dead.”If the vehicle had been where it should have been, he [Goseb] could have been alive now,” Riekert said.Sergeant Urib told The Namibian that he is not at liberty to discuss the incident with the media.Goseb had apparently been arrested in September 2006 on a charge of assault and his health condition was known to the prison authorities.According to Riekert, it was indicated on Goseb’s medical card that he had an appointment at the hospital three weeks before he died, but Goseb and other inmates who were due for medical check-ups were apparently told then that there was no fuel for the vehicle to transport them to hospital.Regional Chief Inspector Sidney Philander, in Walvis Bay, said the allegations are being investigated.”I have ordered the Complaints and Discipline Unit to look into all the accusations that were made.Their findings are sure to be unbiased and fair.When we get their report, we will know whether the prisoner’s death was caused by negligence and if so, who acted negligently.Only then can we decide on a suited punishment, if it is called for.””There is a man in another cell who is suffering from a heart condition.He is also not getting regular medical treatment.The windows in the cells are all covered with corrugated iron sheets and even healthy people find it hard to breathe in here,” said Riekert.”There are currently about 40 people held here in three small cells and the toilets are broken.The food is no good for humans.”I’m not trying to make excuses for myself,” said Riekert, “I’ll stand my trial and take the punishment if found guilty, but some of these people are truly innocent and no one deserves to die in here because of negligence and uncaring authorities.”He told of an alleged incident in August last year when a prison warden apparently entered one of the cells, shooting wildly, after an argument with an inmate.No one was injured, though.Riekert and other inmates who spoke to The Namibian claimed that justice is not served in their region because Police officers are biased and act on the grounds of personal quarrels with members of the community.Some who are accused of petty crimes are often refused bail by the Magistrate because of personal vendettas, even when the prosecutor has no objection to bail being granted, another inmate complained.”Bail for minor crimes is so much that we can’t afford it, while dangerous criminals are released to walk the streets.These police officers have been here for too long; they’re threatening people in the community whom they don’t like; they abuse their power,” he said.He refused to allow his name to be used for fear of retribution.”We have written to the Ministry of Justice to come here and investigate what’s going on, but we haven’t had any reply yet.We have also approached the Ombudsman, but things just carry on this way,” said Riekert.”We want Warrant Officer DJ Scott, who is in charge here, to come back and look into these things that happened while he was away on leave.He is fair and would even have used his private vehicle in this case.He takes the sick to hospital when they need to be there.”Norman Riekert, one of the inmates, told The Namibian that Goseb, who had been suffering from lung problems, started to cough and spit up clots of blood around 17h00.”It was really horrible; we watched him suffer and gasp for breath while we were helpless.For about an hour we were calling for help but there was no car to take him to hospital.”Riekert and other cellmates claim that the vehicle of the Usakos prison was being used for personal purposes by Sergeant Geoffrey Urib, who was on standby duty.When prison staff phoned Urib, he allegedly switched his cell phone off.Urib was allegedly spotted at a service station in town, but colleagues’ attempts to reach him there were also fruitless.According to Riekert, one constable tried to help and a nurse arrived later and declared that Goseb was dead.”If the vehicle had been where it should have been, he [Goseb] could have been alive now,” Riekert said.Sergeant Urib told The Namibian that he is not at liberty to discuss the incident with the media.Goseb had apparently been arrested in September 2006 on a charge of assault and his health condition was known to the prison authorities. According to Riekert, it was indicated on Goseb’s medical card that he had an appointment at the hospital three weeks before he died, but Goseb and other inmates who were due for medical check-ups were apparently told then that there was no fuel for the vehicle to transport them to hospital.Regional Chief Inspector Sidney Philander, in Walvis Bay, said the allegations are being investigated.”I have ordered the Complaints and Discipline Unit to look into all the accusations that were made.Their findings are sure to be unbiased and fair.When we get their report, we will know whether the prisoner’s death was caused by negligence and if so, who acted negligently.Only then can we decide on a suited punishment, if it is called for.””There is a man in another cell who is suffering from a heart condition.He is also not getting regular medical treatment.The windows in the cells are all covered with corrugated iron sheets and even healthy people find it hard to breathe in here,” said Riekert.”There are currently about 40 people held here in three small cells and the toilets are broken.The food is no good for humans.”I’m not trying to make excuses for myself,” said Riekert, “I’ll stand my trial and take the punishment if found guilty, but some of these people are truly innocent and no one deserves to die in here because of negligence and uncaring authorities.”He told of an alleged incident in August last year when a prison warden apparently entered one of the cells, shooting wildly, after an argument with an inmate.No one was injured, though.Riekert and other inmates who spoke to The Namibian claimed that justice is not served in their region because Police officers are biased and act on the grounds of personal quarrels with members of the community.Some who are accused of petty crimes are often refused bail by the Magistrate because of personal vendettas, even when the prosecutor has no objection to bail being granted, another inmate complained.”Bail for minor crimes is so much that we can’t afford it, while dangerous criminals are released to walk the streets.These police officers have been here for too long; they’re threatening people in the community whom they don’t like; they abuse their power,” he said.He refused to allow his name to be used for fear of retribution.”We have written to the Ministry of Justice to come here and investigate what’s going on, but we haven’t had any reply yet.We have also approached the Ombudsman, but things just carry on this way,” said Riekert.”We want Warrant Officer DJ Scott, who is in charge here, to come back and look into these things that happened while he was away on leave.He is fair and would even have used his private vehicle in this case.He takes the sick to hospital when they need to be there.”

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