'He decided to flee'

The defence minister claims that video footage shot of law-enforcement operations can be used “for possible revenge or some other criminal intent”.

19 September 2019 | Crime

Defence minister Penda Ya Ndakolo says Benisius Kalola (32), the second unarmed civilian killed during Operation Kalahari Desert this year, was shot when he fled after he was asked to surrender illegally obtained footage of an anti-crime operation.

Ya Ndakolo also told parliament this week that Kalola had been charged previously with two counts of robbery.

“So you can see what kind of a person you are dealing with here,” he said.

“For the uninformed, recording a video of NDF and NamPol members in action is prohibited because it is very dangerous.”

He said the footage could be used to identify officers “for possible revenge or some other criminal intent”.

He said on the day in question, Kalola had begun filming the soldiers and police involved in an investigation into drug dealing.

During a search at a house in Katutura, which resulted in the arrest of three suspects, Kalola began filming their activities on his mobile phone.

The filming was reported to the patrol commander, who instructed two NDF soldiers and police officer to ensure that the video footage was deleted.

When Kalola was approached and told to delete the footage, he “decided to flee”. Ya Ndakolo said “logically, the members chased after him”, and subsequently NDF soldier Mulele Darrel Nyambe, now in custody on a charge of murder, shot him in the back. He died three hours later.

Rule of law

The minister stressed that while the objective of the ongoing joint anti-crime operations is to uphold the rule of law and that the defence ministry does not have a “deliberate policy of shooting at or killing innocent civilians, the behaviour of some rotten eggs is contributing to these incidents”. He claimed that in “all the recorded cases involving NDF members, the victims were either trying to avoid or running away from the members on patrol. This is very unfortunate”.

The minister also said that a preliminary police report had revealed Kalola had two pending robbery charges against him.

The minister said while Operation Kalahari Desert was aimed at protecting civilians and their property, “the most unfortunate thing is that some media outlets, members of the public and politicians are sensationalising the incidents and using them to mislead and inflate the feelings of the public against the operation”.

Nevertheless, the minister added that the defence ministry wanted to make it “categorically clear that this and other previous shooting incidents are deeply regrettable, as they send a wrong perception to the general public”.

He appealed to the community to cooperate and obey instructions from the NDF or police to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Ya Ndakolo said while the majority of Namibians have welcomed the joint police and NDF crime-prevention operations, not all support the initiative.

“There are, unfortunately, a few elements, especially criminals and their sympathisers, who are against these operations and thus they obstruct the duties of NamPol and NDF officers during such operations.” He continued to say that “those who are against the anticrime operations also defy and disrespect orders and warnings of the officers involved”. In June, Talent Fambaune (22) was shot and killed by NDF officer Gerson Nakale (38). Nakale also remains in custody and faces a charge of murder.

Meanwhile, the People's Litigation Centre (PLC) has lodged a complaint of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

The complaint is for crimes committed by the NDF, Namibia Correctional Services, Windhoek City Police and the Namibian Police during Operation Hornkranz and Operation Kalahari Desert. On Monday, a spokesperson for the International Criminal Court acknowledged receipt of the complaint, saying the communication would be considered and once a decision was reached, the PLC would be provided with an answer and reason for the final decision.

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