24 August 2021 | Crime
Police and the victim of an alleged police assault that left Kenneth Oscar 'Barney' Gariseb with serious head trauma have offered different versions of what led to the injury.
Yesterday, Gariseb's brother, Robert, said that the head trauma his brother suffered, which landed him in the ICU following surgery, was sustained after he was taken into custody for allegedly violating curfew regulations.
Details of what led to the injuries sustained by Barney remain sketchy, with the Garisebs admitting that Barney was forced to escape a police assault by jumping out of the moving police vehicle.
Robert Gariseb yesterday explained his brother was “left with no other choice but to jump” from an open police van, as he was being beaten and kicked by police officers during the drive to Katutura police station.
Meanwhile, the police yesterday claimed that no assault took place, and that Gariseb instead jumped from the vehicle to avoid being put behind bars for breaking curfew regulations. Nampol Commissioner George Mhoney however also confirmed that to date, no charges have been levelled at Gariseb or the friend who was also taken into custody that night.
But the family insist that police brutality was at the centre of the incident, and they are determined to open a criminal case by the end of the week, once all necessary medical documents have been obtained.
They are also considering launching a civil lawsuit against the police.
“Whether he jumped from the police vehicle or not, he was assaulted by them and that's what forced him to jump and remain unconscious on the road. Then they took him and dropped him off like a sack of potatoes at the hospital,” Robert said yesterday. “They didn't care whether he lives or dies. He was left fighting for his life in the ICU after the brain surgery.” The family claim that Barney, who had sustained grave injuries and blacked out, was simply dropped off at the hospital before the police allegedly sped away without leaving their credentials or details of the incident.
“Why didn't they hand him over properly at the hospital and leave their contact details. Why drop him off secretly and drive away?,” Robert Gariseb said yesterday.
He added: “Bottom line is that he was under their care the moment they took him. They had the responsibility to make sure that he is booked in properly for whatever misconduct they suspected him off. But unfortunately they didn't follow their own procedures and this is the direct result of that.”
Robert further argued that the police's version was not airtight.
“Did the arrest go away the moment he jumped? Can you believe someone jumping out of a moving car while in the presence of more than five cops? Wasn't it their responsibility to secure him while he's under arrest?”
NamPol police commissioner George Mhoney yesterday said that preliminary reports indicate that Gariseb decided to jump off the moving vehicle to avoid being taken to the police station.
“He hit his head on the tar road, and that is where he sustained his injuries,” Mhoney said.
He confirmed that if a case is opened by the family, the police will investigate.