Namibia
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Cops must not be criminals – Kawana

Home affairs, immigration, safety and security minister Albert Kawana says it is police officers’ duty to apprehend criminals, not to be criminals.

He said the existence of police stations is meaningless if not supported by a sufficient number of officers whose conduct is beyond reproach, and who are fully devoted to their careers.

“Such officers must be disciplined, loyal and patriotic, and consider their profession as a calling, not just a job opportunity.
“I am sure police officers know their duty is to apprehend criminals, not to be criminals themselves,” Kawana said.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the Tutaleni Police Station at Walvis Bay yesterday.

It is unacceptable to hear of officers conniving with criminals or assisting them to escape, he said.

“This must come to an end.

The inspector general of the police and the entire management of the force are under obligation to ensure that such dishonest members are relieved of their duties to pave the way for loyal and patriotic Namibians,” Kawana said.

Meanwhile, Namibian Police inspector general Joseph Shikongo at the event urged police officers to steer clear of discrimination when carrying out their duties.

He said he is disheartened when he sees or hears of people being discriminated against due to their tribal, ethnic, regional or racial background.

“This is one of those very dangerous diseases that destroys nations, regions, towns, villages and homes.

“I am therefore urging all police officers to shy away from all forms of discrimination,” Shikongo said.

In February, the Office of the Ombudsman on Facebook said it recorded a total of 598 complaints against the Namibian Police in 2020, making it the institution most complained about in the country.

The Namibian last year reported that in 2020, some 248 civil cases against the police were recorded. National police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi at the time said 151 cases of assault which led to civil cases were recorded between 2011 and 2021.

Joseph Shikongo

“A total of 32 civil claims relating to harassment were reported during the same period, and 17 other civil claims were reported during that period,” she said.

Overall, the police have received 200 civil claims, she said.

Shikwambi said the police have won 100 claims and lost 37, while 63 were ongoing at the time. She said the Namibian Police has paid a combined amount of N$2 753 476,89 in respect of all 37 civil claims.

CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT BODY TO PROBE COPS

African Charter commissioner Janet Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie during her mission to Namibia said although there are positive developments in the promotion and protection of human rights in Namibia, there are still challenges to effectively enjoy human rights as ratified in the regional and international human rights instrument.

The charter urges the country to create a body with the purpose of investigating allegations of violations committed by the police and other law-enforcement officers.

Namibia Correctional Service (NCS) commissioner general Raphael Hamunyela says he welcomes the proposal.

“One of our core principles is transparency, and everyone is welcome. We have a committee formed by members of communities, and their mandate is to investigate and advise the commissioner general,” he says.

Hamunyela says the NCS has created a community advisory committee at every town where it has offices for the sharing of issues.

“Nobody is above the law. We are not God, we are human beings who also get frustrated. We are trying our best to do things orderly.

“Hence that body to investigate our conduct . . . I am happy, and we welcome it.
“I already have it for our ministry. We are not scared of anything which supervises and oversees the correctional service,” he says.

Legal Assistance Centre director Toni Hancox says it’s important to have an oversight body to investigate allegations of violations committed by the police and other law-enforcement officers.

“We previously had a complainant in the discipline unit. I don’t know what happened to that, that was at the Office of the Inspector General.

“The oversight body should be completely independent,” she says.

‘MASSIVE’ CORRUPTION

Hancox says with corruption being a “massive thing” in society, the police should ensure that individuals on the oversight body are umblemished.

“They need to have the necessary power to really deal with the concerns they have from the very beginning.

“The oversight body should have the powers it needs to ensure anything when it comes to disciplinary issues can be followed through,” she says.

Hancox says transparency implies that police members are charged and that there are consequences.

Political analyst Graham Hopwood says independent oversight bodies for the police are becoming the norm in many democracies.

“It is an option Namibia should investigate, especially as to how it could be effective in improving the role of the police in protecting human rights. “The exact powers and responsibilities of such a body, its relationship to the Office of the Ombudsman, who should serve on it, whether it should be national or decentralised, and the potential financial costs are all aspects that should be looked at,” he says.

Shikwambi this week said she would respond to calls for an independent investigative body on Monday.

SHIKONGO CASE

The most high-profile case involving a police officer currently under investigation involves inspector general Joseph Shikongo in a case of culpable homicide, and reckless and negligent driving. This comes after a road crash in which three people died in December last year.

Police deputy inspector general Elias Mutota in May said they have not yet finalised their investigation into the accident. The three occupants of a sedan – Frans Ndengu, Stefanus Lukas and Sofia Ananias – died at the scene of the accident along the Ondangwa – Oshikango road.

“The investigation is almost finished. There is only one thing outstanding . . .

“The detectives also need to visit the scene of the accident and the general himself. Those are the only outstanding things,” Mutota said at the time.