The Namibian Correctional Service has downplayed forex trader-turned-politician Michael Amushelelo’s near-death experience while under their care.
The NCS says it has placed a high degree on decent healthcare standards for all its inmates, including Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters commissar Amushelelo.
Although admitting that Amushelelo had a medical issue recently, the NCS says their assessment showed he was in a stable condition.
The NCS’ position comes at the back of a worrisome text from Amushelelo’s cellphone number while under incarceration on Sunday, wherein the forex trader-turned-social-justice activist narrated his alleged near-death experience while in the hands of correctional service last month.
According to Amushelelo, he is lucky to be alive.
Sharing his ordeal, Amushelelo said he had not been feeling well on 28 August – and at around 20h00 that day, he requested his fellow inmates to start knocking on the door to alert the prison guards that he required medical attention.
“The guards came after five minutes, and I told them that I am not feeling well and require urgent medical attention,” reads the text from Amushelelo.
According to him, he waited for an hour for a nurse to attend to his emergency.
“Upon realising that I needed to be hospitalised, the Namibian police, who are responsible for my transportation, took over an hour and 30 minutes to arrive. For two hours and thirty minutes, I was languishing in pain and I almost died as a result of the slow response by both the prison authorities as well as the Namibian police,” Amushelelo said.
He continued: “I am grateful to the doctors and nurses at Katutura Hospital who saved my life; I owe them a gratitude that can never be repaid”.
On the opposing end is the NCS, who have a different version to that of the politician.
“Awaiting trial inmate Amushelelo reported sick on the said date, and correctional officers on duty responded promptly to the call. The nurse on standby was called to attend to the inmate. It should be noted that the nurse on standby on the day does not reside at the facility premises and had to be brought in to attend to the patient,” NCS spokesperson Michael Mulisa said.
Mulisa went on: “Upon arrival at the facility, the nurse assessed the patient and he was found to be in a stable condition; however, precautionary measures were taken, and the patient was subsequently referred to the public hospital for further evaluation and appropriate care”.
Mulisa continued that the NSC is committed to ensuring that inmates incarcerated in correctional facilities enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community.
It is also the NCS’ chief priority to ensure that inmates have access to necessary healthcare services without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.
“To ensure that healthcare services are organised in close relationship to the general public health administration and in a way that ensures continuity of treatment and care, the NCS appointed nurses at all correctional facilities to attend to inmates’ health needs. It should also be noted that there are security procedures to be followed before opening and removing an inmate from a cell after lock up,” Mulisa explained.
What is peculiar, however, is that the damning text by Amushelelo, which circulated like wildfire on various social media, came from his mobile number.
Asked if the authorities allowed Amushelelo to use his cellphone while under incarceration, Mulisa retorted: “The said person is not allowed to use his cell phone while incarcerated in a correctional facility. It should be noted that he did not deposit any cell phone upon admission to the Windhoek Correctional Facility”.
Amushelelo was arrested on Independence Day together with Affirmative Repositioning movement founder Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Popular Democratic Movement lawmaker Inna Hengari during a protest march against youth unemployment.
Hengari and Nauyoma were facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property, while Amushelelo and Nauyoma alone face a charge of violating a court order.
They were previously released on bail on similar charges relating to the China Town shopping complex incident.
One of the conditions of the bail then was that they were not to be charged with public violence contraventions.
The State has withdrawn its case against Hengari.