Some cops misbehave - Namoloh

The safety and security ministry has acknowledged that from 2014 to 2018 as many as 733 gender violence case dockets were sent back for further investigation.

13 March 2019 | Crime

Safety and security minister Charles Namoloh says some police officers do contravene the law when making arrests or dealing with the public, but that they only react when official charges are laid.

“Obviously, as human beings, you will find a few who contravene the law and the police regulations,” Namoloh said.

He also said his ministry does not rely on media reports alleging growing police brutality against the public, and only acts on formal complaints and reports.

Namoloh said there are internal investigation divisions in every region that solely deal with complaints against police officers and any aggrieved person should lay a formal complaint.

Namoloh was responding in the National Assembly to questions from Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) MP Nico Smit about “disturbing reports” in newspapers about alleged police assaults since December.

In January, men and women complained about assaults and indignities suffered at the hands of the Special Reserve Force in police cells at Okahandja.

Also during January, in Swakopmund a man complained that he was flung into a police van and illegally held without charge for an entire day for taking pictures on the beach where the police were removing fishermen.

In Karasburg two men complained they were assaulted and pepper-sprayed by passing policemen without any reason.

Namoloh said allegations of police brutality are assessed and investigated.

He said depending on the merits of each allegation, criminal and or departmental cases are opened and referred to either the Office of the Prosecutor-General for a decision or to the police internal investigations directorate for departmental hearings.

Namoloh said investigations into only three cases of alleged police brutality have been completed over the past 18 months. One of these cases is currently on the court roll in the Otjozondjupa Region. In Omaheke a police officer was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment.

The other case was in Khomas, in which a police officer committed suicide almost immediately after murdering his girlfriend.

Smit wanted to know from Namoloh if it is a crime to take photos of police officers carrying out their duties.

Namoloh said there is currently no law that prohibits this, but said some crime scenes may require further investigation, and that the filming or publishing such scenes may defeat the purpose of such investigations.

“There may be unknown subjects of investigation who may be alerted by such publications, and in some cases, such filming may lead to the contamination of the scene of the crime,” Namoloh said.

He said police offers are “at no point encouraged to brutalise” members of the public, saying they are trained and encouraged to conduct themselves in conformity with the law at all times. In accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977, police officers are mandated to use minimum force that is appropriate to the resistance or non-cooperation during an arrest.



GBV

Smit has also expressed concern over the large number of unsolved murders perpetrated on young girls and women, and the apparent inability of the police to properly investigate serious crimes.

Namoloh acknowledged that from 2014 to 2018 as many as 733 case dockets were sent back for further investigation.

“This does not mean that there is a failure in investigations. It should be noted that for prosecution to proceed there should be prima facie evidence,” Namoloh said. He said the police and the PG's office have now embarked on prosecution-guided investigations to ensure that each investigation is properly guided by the requirements of the court.

Namoloh took issue with the suggestion that dockets disappear, said some dockets may have been misplaced temporarily.

He said the situation will improve with the introduction of an e-policing database.



Delayed cases

Namoloh said the case in which Andre Heckmair was allegedly murdered by two Americans, Kevin Townsend and Marcus Tomas, is dragging on because the accused are continually hiring and firing their defence lawyers.

He said the delay in the Caprivi treason trial is because of “multiple reasons”.

One of these reasons, he said, is the delaying tactics deployed by the accused themselves, when they disputed in court that they are not Namibians and can therefore not be tried in Namibian courts.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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