WALVIS BAY – A 36-year-old inmate who is serving a 34-year prison term at the Windhoek Correctional Facility collapsed and died after he was allegedly left unattended for over an hour. Inmates at the correctional facility are now up in arms, while authorities have promised to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Richardo Rhyno du Preez. His death was confirmed by the Commissioner General of the Namibia Correctional Services, Raphael Hamunyela yesterday. Multiple sources within the correctional facility who witnessed how the inmate was left unattended for over an hour, yesterday told New Era that the prison wardens thought the inmate was joking when he collapsed.
“Nobody attended to him, they left him just lying there for long,” one of the prison sources told New Era yesterday. He said the incident allegedly happened between 07h00 and 09h00.
He alleged prison wardens were executing a search for dangerous weapons, electronics and drugs at section seven - a part of the facility that accommodates convicted murderers and other dangerous convicts.
“The deceased was already searched and he was just supposed to collect his belongings and go back to his cell, but then he collapsed.
They thought that he was buying time so that the other inmates can get rid of any illegal objects and illicit drugs they might have.
However, it was not the case, he was really in need of help,” the source said. A prison warden who also spoke to New Era on condition of anonymity said the inmate collapsed about 30 minutes into the search. He also admitted that they only attended to him about an hour later whereby he was rushed to the hospital of the facility. “He died about 10 minutes after he was admitted and we suspect that he might have suffered a heart attack,” he said. He said they only allegedly attended to the inmate after the whole search was done and realised that he needed urgent help. “He was still alive at that time and we rushed him to the prison hospital but he died about five to 10 minutes later,” alleges the prison warden. Meanwhile, Hamunyela said an investigation will be launched into the death of the inmate. “I don’t have any information or know the circumstance in which he died at this stage. I just found the information on my desk. We also do not know the cause of death yet,” he said. The victim was convicted and sentenced to life over a Gobabis murder plot in August 2013. He was reportedly hired by a former girlfriend Rachel Rittmann to kill her husband Rudolph Henry Rittmann. The now 50-year-old Rachel and Du Preez were both convicted of murder read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act. Judge Christie Liebenberg had sentenced Rachel, whom he called the mastermind behind the brutal murder, to life imprisonment for her role in the killing, while Du Preez received a total custodial term of 34 years imprisonment.