'I don't tolerate brutality'

Ndeitunga says cops often deal with highly intoxicated people

11 September 2020 | Police And Crime

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



A total of 116 cases were registered against police officers for failing to uphold the law and abusing their powers during 2019/20.

This resulted in 56 officers being discharged after their cases were finalised, while many matters are still before court and 41 officers are on suspension.

Police inspector-general Sebastian Ndeitunga revealed this yesterday while refuting allegations that he tolerates abuse and assault of members of the public by police officers.

“The notion or view that the inspector-general of the police just watches and does nothing to these officers is nonsensical and is hereby refuted in the strongest terms,” he said.

Ndeitunga said allegations of police brutality have recently dominated the media, particularly social media, with unpleasant scenes of videos and photos depicting officers allegedly assaulting members of the public.

“Subsequently, animated discussions were held in local media, particularly on radio, with callers making serious allegations of brutality exercised by members of the police and that the inspector-general is reluctant to act or to call his officers to order.”

Ndeitunga said some officers may violate the laws they are expected to enforce, but they are not immune to public accountability.



In the courts' hands

He said all cases registered against police officers are investigated, adding it is only through a proper investigation that the truth can be established, leading to decisive action.

Once an investigation has been completed, a docket is sent to the prosecutor-general (PG) for a decision. “Only once the PG has decided to prosecute will the matter be taken through the court process. The police have no control over what transpires at courts.”

In the event the PG declines to prosecute, there are still internal disciplinary procedures that take place, he added.

“We wish, therefore, to put it on record that in all the cases reported to the police, the police instituted either disciplinary hearings or conducted criminal investigations to determine the veracity of the involvement of members. Where necessary, other investigative organs of the state, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, do also participate in investigations.”



'Vocal in condemning acts'

Ndeitunga stressed he does not condone any acts of violence and has been very vocal in condemning them.

He said the public should note that police officers sometimes deal with highly intoxicated, unruly and uncooperative people, who without provocation, insult and even assault officers on duty.

“It must be understood that law enforcers are there to enforce the law and therefore cannot give in to threats and insults of drunken members of the public.”