OBSTRUCTING police officers in the execution of their duties is a criminal offence especially when they are on an operations such as the current Operation Kalahari Desert where the Namibian Police have teamed up with other law enforcement agencies as well as the Namibian Defence Force to bring order back to the streets of the country.
According to the Khomas Regional Commander, Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, most of the obstruction takes place when members of the joint task force arrive at shebeens that are operating beyond the time limits as prescribed by the Namibian Liquor Act.
“There seems to be a general misunderstanding amongst people, especially those that drink at shebeens and bars that does not have a special licence to stay open later than others. Certain licences only allow the establishment to stay open until ten at night and some others until midnight, but people think all bars can stay open until at least 02:00 in the morning. That is only the case with holders of special licences.”
He said many of the shebeens does not even have a licence to sell liquor but is allowed to operate because of the fact that the necessary documentation and applications are still being processed at the municipality.
“We understand that people are only trying to make a living but they have to do so within the prescribed times. We cannot have loud music and noise in neighbourhoods where school going children and people who work need to sleep.”
According to Commissioner Shikongo the operators of the shebeens or bars in most cases understand what is expected of them and comply with orders from the joint taskforce members to close down but that the customers inside become a problem when they start arguing with officers busy executing their duties.
“These misunderstandings often lead to scuffles and the arrest of people obstructing joint task force members. The officers are only there to enforce the law and not to argue about the finer points stipulated on liquor licences especially not with customers who think they know better.”
He said the same goes for churches in the various neighbourhoods that cause noise pollution sometimes until the early hours of the morning.
“You cannot have loudspeakers on the outside of a building and expect others to listen to loud music or people preaching and praying. People need their sleep and public order is the only mission of the joint task force members.”
According to Commissioner Shikongo members of the joint task force arrest about four people per evening who make themselves guilty of obstructing officers
He said he was informed about a police officer and a member of the NDF who was arrested over the weekend for obstructing other officers on Operation Kalahari Desert patrols in the executing of their duties. He said the fact that these people who should have known better, ended up in jail, is embarrassing.
“It is not a unique situation though. Since the arrest of the two members over the weekend, four other police officers were apprehended on charges of amongst others drunken driving and other petty offences. The fact remains people and especially police officers and soldiers should know better and simply act according to the law.”