Lockdown bites hard

As the number of coronavirus cases increased to 11 in Namibia, the intrusive effects of the Covid-19 state of emergency are being felt across the country, but alcohol continues to flow freely.

30 March 2020 | Disasters



The flow of goods and services to Namibia from neighbouring South Africa has been impacted, as trucks were delayed at border posts and Covid-19 lockdown checkpoints on the way to Windhoek. President Hage Geingob personally intervened and received a briefing opposite the Wernhil Park shopping mall in Windhoek on Saturday. In townships like Katutura, there were arrests, while alcohol being drunk on the streets was also confiscated. Meanwhile, authorities are trying to track down all those who have been in contact with three Namibians who are the latest coronavirus cases in the country. The health ministry on Saturday announced that the confirmed cases had increased to 11 and were all travel-related.

National lockdown looms

President Hage Geingob has also directed that the lockdown will be extended to the rest of the country, in order to arrest the further spread of the Covid-19 scourge.

“The modalities for the rest of the country are being fleshed out and shall be imminently communicated to the Namibian public. Efforts are also being made to deal with all the gaps in the implementation of the national strategy to combat Covid-19,” the presidency said in a statement yesterday.

Party-like atmosphere at coast

Meanwhile, Leandrea Louw reports from Walvis Bay that a party-like atmosphere prevailed at the coast, despite the 21-day lockdown commencing in Erongo.

Walvis Bay senior traffic officer Clifton Jacobs said more than 50 people were warned for not adhering to the Covid-19 lockdown measures. He commended members of the taxi industry for doing their part and cooperating with measures introduced to contain the spread of the virus.

“Our biggest concern is that people are simply ignoring the one-metre distance measure at ATMs, banks and in shops. There are still too many children and people on the streets and too many people driving around needlessly. We have a problem and it will not be solved without cooperation. The army is now coordinating the lockdown operation with the police and members of the traffic force.

This is an ongoing operation and it is now in full swing.”

Police community affairs commander for Erongo, Ileni Shapumba, also emphasised the importance of staying indoors. “The movement of people is a concern. We have blocked key roads, especially in Kuisebmond and Mondesa. We have respect for human rights, but people should understand we are in a state of emergency. This must be respected and conditions have to be adhered too. We are intensifying our operations and cannot continue educating people forever.”

Shapumba added it also appears that people are selling alcohol from homes, including some tuck shops. “This behaviour is unacceptable. We call upon all neighbours to observe and give us tip-offs without delay. It's time that our neighbourhood watch groups and community anti-crime forums embrace the concept of observe and report.”

Alcohol flowing

Police officials are experiencing problems closing alcohol establishments, Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi said.

“Closure of liquor outlets and some businesses remains a challenge, perhaps because of the various misleading information being circulated. With the gazetting of the regulations, and the education thereof, it is our belief that the situation will change,” she said.

Several individuals across the country were found to be in contravention of regulation 11 of the state of emergency in the Oshana, Otjozondjupa, Zambezi, Khomas, Erongo, Kunene and //Karas regions. The majority of the contraventions came from Zambezi, with 21.

In the Omusati Region, one suspect was found to be in contravention of the Liquor Act and contravening section 11 of the state of emergency.

Police officials in the region also had to disperse a gathering of about 350 people, who had gathered for pray.

14-day quarantine

Health authorities initially planned to quarantine truck drivers for a period of 14 days, President Hage Geingob was told at an open area opposite the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek.

Upon entry into Namibia, the temperatures of truck drivers were taken while others were stuck in queues of up to three or four days while trying to make their way into the country.

Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe informed Geingob that Namibian drivers bringing in goods, who do not have to return to South Africa immediately, will be quarantined for 14 days. South African drivers will be allowed to offload goods and return home immediately.

A directive will regulate how they should act to not endanger Namibians.

Several trucks were sent back to South Africa after drivers refused to be quarantined while those opting to be quarantined obliged and were sent to a state facility for the duration of their stay in Namibia.

Drivers who opted not to stay in Namibia had to make the long trek back to South Africa on Saturday evening.

“There is a special dispensation for providers and critical services in order to ensure normal life in the country continues,” health minister Kalumbi Shangula said.

Katutura not complying

In townships like Katutura, there were arrests, while alcohol being drunk on the streets was confiscated.

The City Police had to close off a portion of Eveline Street leading into Independence Avenue on Saturday afternoon, only allowing residents into Greenwell Matongo, Namibian Sun observed.

Multiple taxis not complying with the lockdown measures had to offload their passengers before proceeding with their journeys, while at least one drunk driving incident was witnessed where a driver was locked up in the back of a City Police van on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday night, Namibian Sun joined the Namibian police on patrol and witnessed multiple incidences in which the lockdown measures were not being followed.

In Wanaheda in Tugela Street, two residents were arrested after a scuffle between two family members.

While bars largely implemented the lockdown measures, alcohol was still being sold illegally across Katutura.

In Katutura Central in Ignatius Loyola Street, the police came across a group of people drinking in the street. A police officer had to intervene, confiscating alcohol in the process and urging people not to drink in the street to comply with the lockdown measures.

The same patrol found two men walking home along Shanghai Street with bottles of beer and ordered them to empty the quarts that they were drinking or face arrest and the N$5 000 spot fine imposed for not complying.

The City Police had to cordon off Eveline Street leading into Independence Avenue in Greenwell Matongo to restrict the movement of people not living there or going in to buy essential goods.

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