Kalahari halted… for now

26 June 2019 | Police

The Peoples Litigation Centre (PLC) is set to approach the Windhoek High Court next week if their demand that soldiers be withdrawn from Operation Kalahari Desert is not met by 1 July.

The police yesterday confirmed that while phase one of Operation Kalahari Desert ends this Sunday, operations will resume again in August with all stakeholders on board, including the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) members.

The temporary halt to the wide-scale crime-prevention operation is due to supplementary voter registration that will take place countrywide next month.

In a statement issued yesterday by the social justice litigation arm of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement, PLC chairperson Mathias Haufiku said “our lawyers received a letter from the government attorney committing that soldiers, as part of this operation, will be removed from the streets this Sunday, 30 June 2019.”

Haufiku said in line with this, the PLC notified their lawyers “to place the commander-in-chief on terms that should the soldiers not be removed from the streets by Sunday, an urgent application will be launched before the High Court on 1 July”.

The police, however, confirmed that although phase one of Operation Kalahari Desert is slated to end this Sunday, it's only a temporary scale-down before the second phase begins in August.

Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga told Namibian Sun that in July the police will focus on the supplementary voter registration process, and underlined that while this does not mean crime-prevention operations will cease entirely, they won't be on the scale of Operation Kalahari Desert.

He confirmed that by August, Operation Kalahari Desert will “be in full swing again”, and include all stakeholders including soldiers.





The PLC yesterday made public a letter from the government attorney's office, dated 20 June, which was written in response to the demand by the PLC to withdraw soldiers from Operation Kalahari Desert by 21 June.

The government attorney stated this demand would not be met.

The letter states “as to your demand for the commander-in-chief to withdraw the Namibian Defence Force from the Kalahari Desert, it is our instruction that we will not heed such demand (sic).”

Nevertheless, the letter informed the PLC that the operation “in question will continue until the 30th of June 2019 as envisaged under the enabling Act”.

The government attorney letter further informed the PLC it is their “constitutional right to approach the courts where they feel aggrieved by the participation of the Namibian Defence Force in Operation Kalahari, which we reiterate that such is lawful within the Namibian Constitution”.



Tragedy

The demand to withdraw soldiers from Operation Kalahari Desert by the PLC and several other organisations and citizens, followed the fatal shooting of Zimbabwean taxi driver Talent Fambauone Black (22) on 13 May, after Black reportedly tried to evade a roadblock in Greenwell Matongo.

The soldier accused of the killing, Gerson Nakale, 38, was refused bail and remains behind bars after he was charged with murder.

Ndeitunga last week underlined that Operation Kalahari Desert “will continue countrywide, until its objectives are met” and that soldiers will remain on-board.

Ndeitunga also said after Black's shooting that “one life lost at the hands of our supposed law-enforcement is just too much” and directed all members involved in police-led operations to adhere to rules and regulations and obey the instructions of their commanders.

Ndeitunga also emphasised the successes achieved so far and noted that in March this year, when the police temporarily suspended its special crime-prevention operations, “an upward trend was recorded of 8 787 cases”.

At the resumption of Operation Hornkranz in April 2019, which was the forerunner of Operation Kalahari Desert, crime dropped by more than 8 100 cases, he said.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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