Kalahari assaults to be probed

15 January 2020 | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT



Two videos depicting members of Operation Kalahari Desert assaulting civilians will be thoroughly investigated.

The actions by members of the anti-crime operation were on Monday condemned at a joint media conference by the police and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF).

Deputy inspector-general for police operations, Major-General Oscar Embubulu, said the police and NDF learnt with dismay about the unbecoming behaviour of some police officers and soldiers deployed in the Khomas Region.

“The two videos in question are depicting members of the operation slapping and kicking members of the public,” said Embubulu.

He emphasised that it is against the law for law-enforcement officers to assault, violate and/or manhandle people, even if they are suspected of committing offences.

He said irrespective of the circumstances, the use of force may only be allowed in circumstances of self-defence or to overcome resistance by a suspect during a lawful arrest.

“Therefore, we strongly condemn the actions of the members as depicted in the two video clips. In this regard, the inspector-general of the Namibian police, together with the acting chief of the Namibian Defence Force, directed that the two incidents should be thoroughly investigated,” said Embubulu.

He said according to preliminary information, the video depicting a 33-year-old man being led from a City Golf sedan and assaulted by members of the operation occurred on 2 January in the Goreangab area of Katutura in Windhoek.

He said prior to the recording, it is alleged that the man had been spotted driving recklessly, flashing lights and making crude gestures at members of the anti-crime operation, who were on patrol in the area.

With regards to a video of a white Nissan Tiida taxi, number E77, the incident happened on 9 January at the intersection of Florence Nightingale and Hans-Dietrich Genscher streets in Khomasdal.

According to Embubulu, six men were seen hurriedly boarding the taxi, which raised suspicion.

The taxi driver and the passengers were later taken in for further questioning, and two of the passengers were confirmed to have been involved in robbery cases in the past.

“Inasmuch as we do not entertain unbecoming conduct by law-enforcers, we also do not condone nor tolerate any act of violence, disrespect or demeaning gestures being made against soldiers and police officers while in the execution of their duties,” Embubulu said.

He therefore urged the public to cooperate and treat officers with respect. He added that the unbecoming behaviour perpetrated against members of the public cannot be justified and reassured that investigations are underway and that any transgression will be dealt with.

Embubulu said operations will continue, as needed.

Police commissioner Nelius Becker said there is no law that prohibits the shooting of videos or taking of photographs of police officers or soldiers. However, the merits of each case must be taken into account.

“What are you taking footage of, where and can it jeopardise investigations are all factors that play a role.”

Becker pointed out that if a video is posted on social media, it may hamper investigations before it they are concluded. “It is therefore not encouraged. It is not to hide anything, but not to jeopardise investigations. But there is no legislation that prohibits it.”

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