Police Chief Accepts Damning Report

The Namibian Police Inspector General, Lieutenant Sebastian Ndeitunga says he has accepted the findings of the Ombudsman on the circumstances that led to the detention of a four-year-old boy with his mother in the police cells, where he was allegedly murdered. The death of four-year-old Fortuna Tenete in the Wanaheda police station cells in January triggered a firestorm of public condemnation.

The Ombudsman John Walters last Friday reported his findings on the death of Fortuna Tenete, saying the station commander did not follow up the promises of social workers.

Damning in the report was that the station commander admitted he only brought the presence of children in cells to the attention of the Women and Child Protection Unit (WACPU) on December 31 2013 or during the first week of January 2014.

“At that stage the deceased (Fortuna Tenete) was in detention with his mother for more than a month. Other children were in detention for a longer period,” stated the Ombudsman’s report on Friday.

Walters asked: “The concern is why that practice was allowed to happen contrary to the police’s own guidelines and international standards?”

Said Ndeitunga yesterday when contacted for comment: “We accept the findings of the Ombudsman although we disagree with some of the conclusions made therein, particularly where there were contradictions between the version of the police and some of the other stakeholders.”

However, he said, the report was silent on the responsibility of the mother to have protected the best interest of the child.

Ndeitunga also said the police would take all necessary action to address the concerns related to the detention of female juveniles at Wanaheda police station, as raised in the Ombudsman’s report.

“The police have already taken up the issue of the remand cells and arrangements have been made with all stakeholders to jointly address the concerns related to the detention of children with their parents,” added Ndeitunga.

He said a stakeholders’ meeting already took place and a committee consisting of the Ministry of Safety and Security, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ministry of Justice was set up to fully strategies the way forward.

He added that a legal office would assess the Ombudsman’s report and aise whether any internal disciplinary action should be taken.

Last week the Ombudsman released his report titled “An omission to act or a dereliction of duty – Who is to be blame?” on the circumstances which led to the detention and death of the minor.

Walters said it was the duty of the police to detain mothers with children – as well as female juveniles – separate from adult prisoners and this was certainly not done to protect four-year-old Fortuna Tenete, who was killed by a prisoner during a quarrel with his mother.

Walters said the police had failed in their duty to have the deceased and his mother separated from adult prisoners.

Source : New Era