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UNAM law students upgrade Windhoek Correctional Facility children’s playground

By: Ketemba Tjipepa

Final year law students from the University of Namibia (Unam) in collaboration with building material provider, BUCO have revamped the children’s playground at the Windhoek female correctional facility.

The renovation is part of the University of Namibia’s law students legal aid impact module which aims to help students develop a sense of commitment towards helping the community. The playground is designed to provide children under the age of two with a harmonious environment to play and engage with their mothers which helps to strengthen the bonds between the mother and child.

Incarcerated mothers are allowed to be with their babies in the facility until the age of two, after which the baby is either handed over to the family or social workers to raise. Speaking at the handover ceremony today a law student at the University of Namibia, Laina Hangada, stated they decided to renovate the playground to provide a safer, more fun and comfortable place for children to play and learn.

“The innovative playground will inspire and give hope to the mother and children, and give them something to look forward to. We also aim to raise awareness for the need for improved facilities, child-friendly facilities in the correctional facilities across Namibia,” stated Hangada.

There are seven inmates incarcerated with their children countrywide whose ages range between two to eight months old. The Deputy Commissioner General for Correctional Operations at the Namibian Correctional Service, Sam Shalulange applauded the Unam students for the initiative. “This initiative by our Unam students complimented our efforts to provide a space for children to engage in recreational activities and develop their social skills. It will also serve as a reminder that despite the challenges they may face they deserve every opportunity to strive and grow by investing in their well-being, we are investing in the future of our society,” says Shalulange. 32-year-old Jaezuruka Kamongua who is a mother to a one-year-old child said she is among the female inmates incarcerated with their children.

Kamongua served one year and four months for human trafficking and rape and will be serving 13 years. “I am very happy that there are people who look at us, that really care about us; the mothers here in the correctional facility. So I am very happy that this playground was renovated,” said Kamongua.

Currently, there are a total of 143 female inmates in Namibia at four correction facilities. The inmates are at Windhoek female correctional facility, Oluno, Hardap and Grootfontein correctional facilities. Over N$30 000 has been spent on the project with 11 students forming part of the group that contributed towards the initiative.