Halt army crackdown

30 April 2019 | Opinion

There were mixed feelings last year when President Hage Geingob launched Operation Hornkranz - a campaign initially meant to curb crime and road fatalities during the festive season. During the launch of this operation, deputy police chief, Major-General Anna-Marie Nainda, said the president directed the police on 12 December to increase law-enforcement visibility during the festive season. “The plan entails the participation of not only the members of the Namibian police, but also those from other sister organisations, such as the Namibian Defence Force, Namibian Correctional Services, the City of Windhoek, the municipal police services, as well as anti-crime structures such as police reservists, neighbourhood watches and women and men networks,” Nainda said at the time. Defence force members were immediately deployed to maintain law and order during the festive season. However, this did not sit well with many people who alleged defence force members were employing increasingly violent tactics towards civilians. These fears appeared to have been confirmed at the weekend, when soldiers viciously beat a hapless woman and fractured her skull at a bar in Katutura. It was reported that a police officer, attached to the VIP protection unit, was not spared the rod and was also attacked by the uniformed men. It is true that this country has been hit by unprecedented levels of crime in recent years and it is critical that law enforcement is optimally strengthened. However, maintaining law and order should never be the job of the army. This is the job of the police and assistance of the army is only required in exceptional circumstances. The authorities must stop this slide into anarchy because the widespread impunity of defence force members is encouraging rights abuses that threaten our democracy. The authorities must swallow their pride and recall the army from the streets. Government must rather implement new plans to increase the number of policemen and -women on the streets as a deterrent of crime.

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