Prisoner Fed Up With Potato Diet

WINDHOEK Central Prison inmate Simon Petrus !Ganeb has had enough of potatoes for breakfast, lunch and supper.

He would like the prison authorities to rather serve him food like pasta and rice, instead of potatoes with every meal, !Ganeb told Judge President Petrus Damaseb in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Over the past three years, !Ganeb has made repeated appearances in the High Court as an applicant in a case in which he has been complaining about the food that he finds on his plate at mealtimes in Windhoek Central Prison, which has been his place of residence for most of the past decade.

This week, !Ganeb (59), who is serving terms of imprisonment for stock theft, again returned to court with a complaint about his prison diet. This time around, !Ganeb is alleging that the prison authorities are not adhering to a court order requiring them to ensure that food supplies at Namibian prisons are always adequate to meet the prisons’ prescribed diets and menus, and to allow prisoners with special and prescribed diets to receive food from outside prison in deserving cases and where a prison’s security and order would not be compromised.

!Ganeb first approached the court three years ago with an application in which he was alleging that he was suffering from high blood pressure and pancreatitis, and that the prison authorities were failing to provide him with the correct food to address his medical condition.

After the court asked the Legal Assistance Centre to provide it with a report on the food situation in Windhoek Central Prison, the prison authorities and !Ganeb reached a settlement which in April last year resulted in the court order on which he has now based his latest application against the Minister of Safety and Security and the head of Windhoek Central Prison.

Since his first complaint about the food he was receiving in prison, medical tests have shown !Ganeb is allergic to several types of food, Judge President Damaseb heard this week. Among the food types that he is allergic to are maize, wheat, soya, and also seafood.

A dietician, Zakia Borna, told the court on Tuesday that she provided !Ganeb with a dietary guideline in which he was aised to follow a low-salt diet and to avoid food to which he reacted negatively. Borna said she recommended that !Ganeb could try food types like rice, mahangu, potatoes, chicken, eggs, milk and all types of fruit and vegetables, while he had to avoid the food types he knew he was allergic to.

!Ganeb’s main complaint this week was that he has now been receiving potatoes with most of his meals and that the prison authorities have also continued to provide bread to him.

The head of the clinic at Windhoek Central Prison, Senior Superintendent Nauyele Shalihu, testified yesterday that !Ganeb knew that if he experienced an allergic reaction to any food he had to report that at the prison clinic. Although she knew that he was allergic to some food types, he has never made a complaint about an allergic reaction to her personally, Shalihu said.

The food that inmates receive in prison has been designed to provide a balanced diet to them and not to cater to their likings, she said.

“We are not providing offenders with the food that they want to eat,” Shalihu said. “We are providing offenders with the food that is there, as long as it doesn’t cause him problems.”

In !Ganeb’s case the prison kitchen has replaced his daily portions of maize porridge, which he is allergic to, with mahangu, which he may eat, she said.

However, that dish was not to !Ganeb’s liking. Since he has been given mahangu instead of maize porridge !Ganeb has been refusing to touch the mahangu, sending it back to the prison kitchen instead with a message that he was not Oshiwambo-speaking and would not be eating that kind of food, she said.

Shalihu also testified that !Ganeb has not complained about having bread on his menu. However, he has complained once that the bread he had received was not white enough, but looked too much like brown bread, she said.

The hearing before Judge President Damaseb is due to continue on a date that still has to be set.

Source : The Namibian