Inmate Richard Hange wants his fellow countrymen to learn how to control their anger and not be consumed by jealousy, as these are some of the attributes that led him to kill his girlfriend.
He added all of those things brought him where he is today, the Windhoek Correctional Facility, something that will never be erased and forms part of his past.
“I was controlled by anger and jealousy; I was blind and felt like darkness where I was, and it happened so fast that I ended up murdering somebody – having blood on my hands. Something came to my mind – if she is gone, I have to go too and attempted to take my life,” he said as he showed marks of suicide when he attempted to slit his throat.
Hange said this during an engagement session at Droombos, organised by the office of the First Lady and #BeFree Youth.
#BeFree is deconstructing gender stereotypes by teaching boys and young men how to cook. Among other topics, the sessions include discussions around consent, fatherlessness, male fertility and gender-based violence in the country.
Hange said there is a huge responsibility on men to take care of their families and provide for them but cautioned men to seek help when the pressure becomes too much.
“We are told to ensure our families are sorted; it may not be financially but the mindset. When I came to prison, I was 23 years old; I am 34 right now. I did not enjoy my youth,” he shared.
He added: “Stop being with bad friends and people who have nothing to impact in your life. If you stay with wise people, you will become wise. A blind man cannot lead another blind man. There is something that we are neglecting. Men need to ask for advice”.
Another inmate, Ricardo Katzao (35), also shared his testimony about what led him to commit rape, saying as a victim of rape and having an absent father himself, society should not blame absent fathers and excuses for committing such crimes.
“I grew up without my father, and I always say I can’t blame him for that. A single mother raised me. I dropped out of school to help out my mother,” said Katzao.
He added: “It’s also not easy for me because I was also a victim, but it came through trusting people. The person who did it to me was more or less a bully and all of us were scared of him. After being raped by a bully, I never opened up, which was one of my regrets. I never wanted to open up because of shame”.
Fast forward to one fateful day Katzao got drunk and attempted to rape a girl from his neighbourhood, someone he grew up knowing, and he was put in prison the following day. He was granted bail and later released.
“One would think that I learned my lesson; I bumped my head against the wall, but no – it repeated it. I met another lady again and although she didn’t have a problem, she was underage. We were in a relationship; she didn’t have a problem with it until the night I was drunk, and it was the night she refused to have sex,” he recalled activities after dating her for about three months.
He said he was using his masculinity for the wrong reasons and felt entitled to get whatever he wanted from her.
First Lady Monica Geingos said it is important for Namibian men to learn how to be independent, learn essential skills, be accountable and redefine masculinity.
“Think of your problematic ways, have better company. You cannot change when you are not held accountable for what you have done; you may not go to the physical jail but you will be in your head and the only way to release yourself from that is to hold yourself accountable and seek help. For as long as that demon is within you, it is going to keep you trapped,” she said.
She added: “We must heal and fix these things – otherwise we are going to see more young people living lives of regrets”.