Curfew: Police pounce on restaurants

Restaurant owners say the police misinterpreted curfew regulations when they arrested employees and shut establishments at the weekend.

24 February 2021 | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Police cracked down on restaurants that were operating after 20:00 at the weekend, arresting at least three people, including a 60-year-old woman.

The police claimed that restaurants may not be open after 20:00 and arrested employees even though no alcohol was being sold.

This occurred at Eagles Beer Garden in Avis and also at Isabel's Table on Saturday night.

According to sources, some shebeen owners are driving around Windhoek, checking on restaurants that are open and then informing the police.



Restaurant closed

In a social media post the owners of Isabel's Table said they would be closing the restaurant from Monday until further notice after Isabel Gamito, 60, was arrested on Saturday night for having the restaurant open.

“Saturday, after one of the best days we had, around 20:30 a detective and a police agent went to the restaurant and without even asking or looking for evidence of wrongdoing, arrested Isabel for having the restaurant open.

“They took her to the police station and made a 60-year-old lady stay in a filthy police station for 14 hours with detained men, some without masks or respecting social distancing.

No access to a toilet and a broken chair or a floor full of cockroaches to sit.”

According to the post, the Namibian police ordered the restaurant closed.

“We have been complying with the restriction measures in place, not selling alcohol after 20:00 and closing the restaurant by 21:30, so that everyone is home by 22:00.”

The owners further said that Gamito was severely affected by the “terrible injustice” and in no condition to keep on running the restaurant.

“We will consult with our lawyers in order to get justice for this illegal and unjustified arrest.” At Eagles Beer Garden in Avis, two employees were arrested on Saturday night for trading in alcohol after 20:00, with the pro forma showing 20:04.

According to a message from the owner of Eagles, both employees have been released after paying fines totalling N$10 000.

She said more than 12 officers entered the building while they were cashing up.

“We tried to explain our circumstances, seeing that the waiter station had technical issues and all staff were operating from one station and this caused some delays.”

According to the owner, they were told by Deputy Commissioner Ismael Basson that no one was allowed on the premises after 20:00

“The Commissioner, who was in charge of the group of unreasonable officers that entered our business space, was grossly misinformed as we are allowed to be in our space until 22:00, the curfew being the motivational factor to clear by 21:30,” she said.



Fines top N$39 000

The regional police commander of the Khomas Region, Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, was unable to tell Namibian Sun how many people were arrested for violating coronavirus regulations at restaurants this weekend, just saying it was “many”. He said arrests were made across the city and for all violations of the coronavirus regulations.

Shikongo said fines totalled N$39 000 for people who had pleaded guilty to violating coronavirus regulations this past weekend. Shikongo said he was aware of the arrests at Eagles and Isabel's, but added that if people have a problem, they should take it up with the courts.

“Why should it become a police issue? They should go dispute it in court. We have the evidence that was taken.”

Shikongo added that a productive meeting was held with owners of restaurants, bars and shebeens on Sunday to once explain the regulations. A representative of the attorney-general's office was also present. Shikongo stressed that restaurants may only be open until 22:00 and may not sell alcohol after 20:00.

He said if alcohol was sold before 20:00, customers may still consume it after 20:00. “Just make sure that the proof of sale can be provided.” He also said that restaurants were advised to keep bills for alcohol and meals separate, to ensure that drinks are paid before 20:00.

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