Police deny guilt in inmate’s death
By Magreth Nunuhe
WINDHOEK — The Namibian Police yesterday denied being responsible for the death of a sick South African female inmate at the Wanaheda Police Station, amid claims that her persistent request for treatment were ignored.
Thirty-year-old Nomsa Shumane, who was awaiting sentence on drug-related charges, died on Tuesday on the way to the Katutura State Hospital.
Inmates who preferred not to be named, saying they fear for their own lives, claimed that the South African woman identified as Nomsa Shumane, 30, complained the whole Tuesday morning of feeling sick but the police apparently ignored her pleas.
“The police abuse us and push us around,” said one inmate, adding that the police only decided to take the woman to the hospital around 15h00 when they realized her condition had worsened, but it was too late.
Another woman, who was identified as Shiola Skrywer, 22, held in the same police cells apparently also fell sick after Shumane died, and had to be rushed to hospital.
The inmates complained that conditions in the cells are appalling and overcrowding is another major problem.
Approached for comment, Namibian Police Deputy Commissioner Sylvanus Nghishindimbwa confirmed the tragic incident, saying the inmate was not feeling well before collapsing.
An ambulance rushed her to the Katutura hospital, but she was declared dead upon arrival.
He said that a post-mortem would be conducted.
Nghishindimbwa said the second inmate Skrywer was treated for shock on Tuesday night and discharged yesterday morning.
He however denied allegations that the police ignore inmates and said that although they attend to complaints they cannot “satisfy” everyone at the same time.
He said he was aware of complaints but that they do not have a car on standby when a prisoner falls sick and have to wait for an ambulance or a vehicle from the Ministry of Health and Social Services to transport the sick.
“The police don’t have a car waiting for someone to fall sick. Cars are also engaged in other operations,” he said.
He confirmed overcrowding in cells but said that it was beyond their control, as people who commit offences have to be incarcerated.
Shumane was to be sentenced this Friday.
Last year one of the ‘children of the liberation struggle’ also succumbed to injuries while in custody, allegedly because he did not receive immediate medical attention.
NamRights Executive Director, Phil Ya Nangoloh, condemned Titus Mweshininga Iita’s death and said it was an example of alleged police brutality as the latter, who was apparently deaf had needed an urgent operation but was never operated on, leading to his death.
But Namibian Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga dismissed as malicious and wild allegations that the human rights organisation made against the police and said that policing in a democracy means to protect and enforce basic human rights and to ensure that provisions in the Constitution are respected.