Ndeitunga Says It’s Time for Solutions

POLICE Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga says the time has come for the nation to use the death of four-year-old Fortuna Tenete early this year as a spur to find solutions and avert another cell death in future.

He told The Namibian that a team consisting of police officers, officials from the Ministries of Health and Social Services, Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Justice and Safety and Security and representatives from the Ombudsman’s office had been set up for this task and will meet every three months.

Ndeitunga said the committee had already met once.

His comments come a few days after the Ombudsman John Walters released a report on his findings into the probe surrounding the circumstances, which led to Tenete’s death in the Wanaheda Police Station holding cells.

Tenete was allegedly fatally injured when a female inmate who had had a fight with the boy’s mother hit his head against the cell floor on 21 January.

Tenete died of his injuries at the Katutura State Hospital the same day.

Walters concluded that all the parties involved in Tenete’s case were to blame, but Ndeitunga said this is not the time to blame each other.

“We did not know there was a facility to take children, especially the ones that were breastfeeding. So people should not behave as if they are saints, but rather find a solution to this problem,” Ndeitunga said.

While Ndeitunga admitted part of the blame, he also said the Ombudsman’s Office was not doing enough to educate people on their rights.

“One of the Ombudsman’s Office’s responsibilities is to educate the communities on their rights. When it comes to these things, they should not blame others for the challenges in the system,” Ndeitunga said.

“He said some of the challenges in the system involve the arrest of breastfeeding mothers and what the police are supposed to do in such cases.

“When a breastfeeding mother is arrested and the courts send her to the cells, what are the police supposed to do? Like in Tenete’s case, his mother told us she has no relatives who can take care of her child,” Ndeitunga said.

In his report, Walters recommended that magistrates should play a more active role in the postponement of cases.

“For instance, the applicant (State) needs to submit convincing reasons to the court why the matter has to be postponed for further investigation or any other reason and the accused be given the opportunity to oppose the application. The court’s findings need to be recorded on the record of proceedings,” Walters said in the report.

But Ndeitunga said there is no crime that is too small.

“If someone commits a crime, they should be remanded, unless the court orders their release,” he said.

Source : The Namibian