Windhoek inmate gets bachelor’s degree and freedom

A SHUNA KEGUMBO … Methano ndika otamu monika Gisela van Kent, Patrick Gariseb osho wo omupevikuluntu gwoshimpungu shiilonga yokoonyala mezulonkalo lyondholongo yaVenduka, Tuhafeni Shangadi. Ethano: Henry van Rooi

Hope and joy has been revived back into the Gariseb home in Windhoek’s Okuryangava area.

Last Friday, Patrick Gariseb (48), who had been sentenced to nine years imprisonment, was released on remission after spending six years at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

Remission refers to the reduction of a prison term, usually due to good conduct.

Gariseb was arrested in December 2013, while working as a dangerous goods driver after being found in possession of cannabis at the Buitepos border post.

“While in prison, I enrolled myself at the prison’s workshop to upgrade my mechanical skills. In 2018, I joined the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programme at the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) for automotive mechanical engineering.

“The prison boundaries could not hold me back from achieving my goals,” Gariseb said.

After successfully obtaining this qualification, he enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in transportation management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

“It wasn’t a walk in the park,” said Gariseb, who said limited time to study, a lack of resources and inadequate internet services were his main challenges.

Deputy officer in charge of the prison, assistant commissioner Oscar Numwa confirmed Gariseb’s release.

He described Gariseb as a well behaved and friendly former inmate who delivered at the expected time and always adhered to regulations.

“We didn’t encounter any complaints nor problems with him [Gariseb].

“I am wishing him all the best with the qualifications he obtained,” Numwa said.

Gariseb was also nominated to represent the Namibia Correctional Service at the National Skills Competition at Ongwediva last month, where he scooped second place and received a silver medal.

He said he learned the value of patience only while in prison.

“I didn’t to have patience but now I value it and I have learnt how to be around different people with various personalities and to care for those who are in need. I am proud of the qualifications I achieved during my prison term and I implore people never to give up on themselves. It’s never too late to study, I had to return to education after 25 years.”

Gariseb thanks the prison management and his family and friends for their support during his time in prison.

Gariseb’s wife of 14 years Bonitha Garises (46) said it was very difficult for the family to cope without him.

“There were also times when I felt like giving up but I kept the faith. I lost my mother due to cancer and I had to grieve her and the absence of my husband.”

Garises and the children are now happy and relieved to have Gariseb home, and proud of his achievements.

Self employed Gisela van Kent, who also attended the National Skills Competition and was present when Gariseb was released from prison, said the competition was an eye opener in terms of participating inmates.

“I want to help former inmates to return to society and advocate against stigma and stereotyping of inmates and former inmates. I have witnessed inmates using education and training as a vehicle for transforming their livelihoods and that of their families.”

Van Kent said she has come up with a project to provide support to inmates in terms of equipment and information, for those who want to transform their lives.


As the group of four inmates, including Gariseb and fellow silver medal winner Lawrence Tjiundja, as well as Elifas Ndalusha and Elia Uirab, were preparing to compete at the recent National Skills Competition, they lacked the necessary tools to do so.

It was then that deputy executive director of the higher education ministry Raimo Naanda approached four good Samaritans in his personal capacity to make a donation.

One of the those who assisted the inmates, Etuna Guest House executive director Ndaambe Nekwaya simply said: “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

She further acknowledged that their performance impressed her at the competition and she wants them to have something to keep themselves busy with after their release.

“I understand that society will be harsh on them after their release and their skills will go to waste as they would not even be able to secure loans, which hinders their rehabilitation process,” Nekwaya said.

Human Capital Fishing director Helena Paulus was impressed while watching the competition on television.

“There will be challenges, once they have been released they can use the starter pack tools to make ends meet and in future become employers,” said Paulus.

Naanda said he saw potential in the inmates from the beginning of the competition and had hoped that they would win.

“As a technically qualified individual, I was impressed with the manner in which the inmates executed their tasks. Their exceptional talent is what inspired me to inquire when they would be released and what they intend to do after,” Naanda said.
Naanda advised the inmates to start their own businesses rather than looking for employment.

All inmates lacked the necessary tools to start their own businesses, however, which is what motivated Naanda to speak to a few of his friends in the hopes of providing sponsorship.

“Through God’s grace I was able to get four sponsors who heard my call and decided to sponsor tools worth N$10 000 for each inmate. These tool kits consist of basic tools that allow the inmate to start their business upon their release from the correctional facilities,” Naanda said.

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