Cops to pull up their socks

The inspector-general of the Namibian police has responded to public complaints about police brutality and ineffectiveness.

09 May 2019 | Police

Namibian police chief Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga is aware of persistent criticism against NamPol officers accused of providing mediocre, or worse, customer service and vowed he is working to root out the problem.

“We have a combination of challenges,” he said on Tuesday at a press conference to address allegations of assaults on civilians by Operation Hornkranz uniformed officers during the last weekend of April. He underlined that NamPol is hard at work “to professionalise the force”.

He said complaints range from the lack of professional conduct of officers during the taking of statements, giving testimony and the handling of investigations overall.

In response to complaints, most recently from #MeTooNamibia survivors who shared their frustrations when attempting to register cases of rape and sexual abuse at police stations, the police chief underlined that rape is “a huge problem in our country” and a deeply “traumatising” event for any survivor.

He said the job of the police is to ensure a complainant is not further traumatised, and officers should act in a way that “consoles this particular person”.

He added that not providing regular feedback during investigations, or advising complainants their cases have progressed to court, is “unacceptable”.

In July 2018, Ndeitunga conducted several briefings with police officers, urging them to pull up their socks and to improve their work standards.

At the time he warned Windhoek police officers that residents “in this town are losing trust and confidence in the police” and said their tolerance is growing thin.

He urged police officers to report colleagues who are “ill-disciplined, lazy, corrupt, drunkards”, so that steps can be taken to address these issues.



Hornkranz blues

Ndeitunga also took aim at law enforcement officials who “obstruct their colleagues” in enforcing the law.

He said during Operation Hornkranz, reports emerged of “off-duty police officers and soldiers” who were “amongst the law breakers”.

He said they reportedly refused to comply with Operation Hornkranz colleagues who had instructed them to close their shebeens which were still operating after stipulated closing times.

These off-duty cops and soldiers were “particularly confrontational with the operational teams” Ndeitunga said on Tuesday.

Further, he confirmed that so far six cases of assault on civilians are being investigated, following multiple accounts of violent behaviour by operational members on patrons at various entertainment venues and elsewhere.

Ndeitunga stressed each case will be investigated in an objective and impartial manner “for us to establish the truth and ensure that justice prevails”.

Ndeitunga further noted that on a “disheartening note”, amongst the alleged assault incidents, some of the “alleged victims are from the uniform branch”, which is also being investigated.

The police chief however added that it is important to note that the complaints of assault during Operation Hornkranz, all related to the weekend 27 and 28 April, and “most, if not all of the alleged incidents, occurred during late night and early morning hours, with many occurring at alcohol outlets”.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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