Soldier to appear for murder

09 September 2019 | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT

The soldier attached to Operation Kalahari Desert, who allegedly shot a 32-year-old civilian last week, is expected to appear in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court today.

The victim, Benisius Kalola, was shot at Single Quarters in Katutura on Thursday and later died in the Katutura state hospital.

Police on Friday confirmed that a case of murder was registered and a member of Operation Kalahari Desert phase II was arrested.

According to a statement, Kalola was allegedly shot by members of Operation Kalahari Desert while they were searching for narcotics.

“A substantial amount of cannabis/dagga was recovered and three suspects were arrested.”

It is, however, not known what sparked the shooting, as police investigations are still at an early stage.

“The loss of life is regretted by the joint operation command of Operation Kalahari Desert phase II. However, it is firmly believed that the due process of law will follow its course.”

The police further dismissed claims that the deceased had no criminal record.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed the deceased had two outstanding criminal cases, being robbery with aggravating circumstances and armed robbery,” the police said.

Police inspector-general Sebastian Ndeitunga told Namibian Sun the incident was regrettable.

He said members in uniform should be cautious when firing live bullets at suspects.

Ndeitunga said investigations are still ongoing to determine the circumstances under which the shooting took place and if anyone had given the order to shoot.

He stressed the police were with the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) when the incident happened.

“The person (suspect) has been arrested. This is a very serious incident. We must, however, focus on the prevention of these incidents in the future.”

Ndeitunga had previously explained that no member of the anti-crime operation was allowed to use their firearm without being told to do so by their commander, and that the police should take a leading role during the operation, unless otherwise directed by the operation commander.

“No member should apply force against any person during the operation, save where minimum force is to be applied, particularly during the arresting of resisting suspects or else actions should be taken against culprits.”

Ndeitunga had also stressed at the launch of Operation Kalahari Desert phase II that all members had undergone a three-day intensive induction, particularly on the conduct, roles and rules of engagement during the execution of their duties.

This was the second fatal shooting linked to the widely criticised anti-crime operation, which was first launched as Operation Hornkranz in December last year.

In early June, outrage erupted when Zimbabwean taxi driver Talent Fambaune (22) was shot in the head by soldier Gerson Nakale (38), when he tried to avoid a temporary roadblock set up by Operation Kalahari Desert.

Nakale was charged with one count of murder and remains in custody, after bail was refused.

In August, it was reported that a man was shot and wounded by an NDF officer during a Kalahari Desert operation in Walvis Bay. The man survived.

Meanwhile, political representatives of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and Swanu of Namibia, who visited Kalola’s family, have called on government to address the fatal shootings linked to Operation Kalahari Desert.

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