Critics gun for Geingob

Pressure groups have given the head of state until close of business on Friday to withdraw the military from Operation Kalahari Desert, but the police say the status quo will remain.

17 June 2019 | Crime

Political detractors and critics of President Hage Geingob have called on him to explain - as the army's commander-in-chief (CIC) and the current SADC chair - why an “innocent and unarmed” Zimbabwean taxi driver was killed during Operation Kalahari Desert.

They have also called on him to publically console the family and loved ones of Talent Fambaune.

Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga said the crime-prevention operation will continue: “The operation will continue as it is. The Namibian Defence Force members will continue working with the police. There will be no change, the status quo remains,” Ndeitunga said.

“The incident is being investigated as normal and procedurally.”

Reacting to a Geingob tweet at the weekend, in which he wished Kunene governor Marius Sheya happy birthday, members of the public, included political commentator Henning Melber reacted by calling on the president to express his condolences.

Geingob has dubbed 2019 as the year of accountability.

Gerson Nakale, the soldier accused of firing the fatal AK-47 shot that killed Fambaune, has been remanded in custody by the Katutura Magistrate's Court, amid emotional scenes on Friday. His next appearance is in October.

Melber tweeted in response to Geingob: “Please also express condolences as regards the innocent and unarmed victim killed. He came from Zimbabwe because he thought in Namibia as a peaceful country he could earn some money to support his family back home. He seemed to be a decent young man who deserved to live.”

It is alleged that Nakale (38) fired his AK-47 at a fleeing taxi in Greenwell Matongo after Fambaune had made a sudden U-turn to avoid a roadblock set up by members of Operation Kalahari Desert on Thursday morning at around 01:00.

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) said as SADC chair, Geingob must explain why a Zimbabwean national was shot like an animal by his soldiers.

“He must explain why he has not heard the pleas when stories of abuse surfaced. The president's ignorance of any semblance of solution-based leadership is the reason why people are being beaten and killed. Yet, high-profile killings and child murders such as that of Magdalena Stoffels, Cheryl, Frieda Ndatipo and others remain unsolved,” the official opposition said through its leader McHenry Venaani.

“The president must explain to the loved ones and family members of all Operation Hornkranz and Operation Kalahari Desert victims why they are battered, bruised, jailed or dead.

“Geingob is the commander-in-chief and he remains quiet… The president has no right to militarise and brutalise black communities. The president is out of touch and his latest gimmick has now killed a breadwinner,” Venaani said.

Meanwhile, the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement has given the authorities five days to remove soldiers from the ongoing crime-prevention operation or it will turn to the courts to force government to do so.

Khomas regional police commander, Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, said in a statement that the operation would continue.

“The operation is continuing with determination until the objectives are achieved; that is to ensure the sustainable safety of our communities in the Republic of Namibia.

“The shooting incident is regrettable and I express our condolences to the family of the deceased.

“It must be noted by all that the objectives of the operation remains the same,” Shikongo said, while adding that the errant soldier was yet to be convicted by a “competent court of law.”

AR said in its statement it is giving Geingob until close of business on Friday to withdraw the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) from Operation Kalahari Desert.

“Brutality of this nature perpetrated by an armed force and directed at innocent civilians through machinations of a state is reminiscent of the dark historical apartheid dispensation which many young and selfless Namibians, including yourself fought to overcome. There is no justification for the Namibian Defence Force's participation in the law-enforcement realm in our constitutional dispensation,” Amupanda said through AR's lawyers.

Warnings ignored

Venaani said further that Geingob must explain why he has not heeded the warnings of experts who have repeatedly said soldiers are not trained for community policing and don't have restraint.

“He must explain why he has unleashed his military on black Namibians - why are people being harassed as they walk home and why citizens are being treated like children, while being asked to choose between slaps and push-ups.

“He must explain to his fellow SADC leaders why he is not leading by example when it comes to respect for human rights.

“As PDM, we suggest that these so called 'operations' be called off. Harambee must find another way of fighting criminals through the Namibian police and not use the military for this.

“We are a peaceful country and this is war against unarmed civilians. The peace and stability that we all talk about must include the protection of our people. Soldiers cannot take up the roles of police officers, their war-fighting skills is on another level,” Venaani added.

Shortly after news broke of the shooting last week, Ndeitunga strongly condemned the killing of the unarmed taxi driver and vowed this will not happen again on his watch.

“I can assure you we will make sure this is not repeated.”

Ndeitunga said his and the Namibian police's condolences go out to the family of the taxi driver.

Kenya Kambowe

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