Over 3 000 offenders sentenced to community service since 2010

KARASBURG: A total of 3 129 offenders have been sentenced to community service in Namibia since the implementation of the Community Service Orders (CSO) programme in 2010.

These statistics were revealed by the Namibian Correctional Service Commissioner-General, Raphael Hamunyela here on Thursday, during the official roll-out of CSO to the Karasburg and Ariamsvlei courts.

He said out of the 3 129 offenders 2 781 had successfully completed their CSO by 31 December 2023, representing 89 per cent, while 286 offenders had breached their sentencing conditions. A total 62 offenders were still actively engaged in fulfilling their sentencing conditions by 31 December 2023.

The commissioner-general said the CSO programme has been rolled out to 53 out of 71 targeted courts representing 72 per cent of the targeted courts, adding that the aim is to ensure that the remaining 18 courts are covered in the next four years.

He said the utilisation of CSO as a sentencing alternative holds the potential to decrease inmate po
pulation in correctional facilities, leading to substantial savings in State resources, citing that by curbing the expenses associated with custodial care, including food, utilities, medication, and related costs, limited resources can be redirected to address other pressing needs.

‘Moreover, directing individuals with non-serious offences to participate in community service helps alleviate overcrowding in correctional facilities. This, in turn, facilitates better management of hardened criminals, fostering rehabilitation opportunities and ultimately bolstering public safety, opting for the CSO programme for non-serious offenders shielding them from the stigma and collateral damage often linked to incarceration,’ said Hamunyela.

Hamunyela said another advantage of implementing the CSO programme enables offenders to be supervised within the community, allowing them to maintain employment and family relationships.

‘By engaging in unpaid community work, offenders under CSO also repay the community for any har
m or damage they have caused, aligning with traditional principles of justice and this sentencing approach reflects a commitment to national interests and cultural integrity,’ he said.

||Kharas Control Prosecutor, Lewis Chigunwe said one of the common factors that affect the successfull roll-out of the community service specially at the Keetmanshoop court is that many family members want to pay fines for their loved ones to avoid them doing community service.

‘You get minors that are coming from influential families and these families turn to negotiate for their child not to perform community service and want to pay fines and as much as that looks right but that is denying the child a chance to learn from their mistake, that is the problem we are faced with,’ he stressed.

Source: Namibia Press Agency