WHEN the 28-year-old Windhoek resident Selma Johannes learned that her elder sister, Lydia, was ill and was hospitalized at Oshakati, she decided to travel to the North to take care of her sister’s two-month old baby.
However, having when she arrived at Oshakati on Wednesday evening, she saw her world being turned upside down when she landed in police’s holding cells accused of stealing a cell phone – a crime she vehemently denies.
It all started Friday afternoon when she went to visit her hospitalized sister at the Oshakati intermediate hospital.
She boarded a taxi back home at around 14:00, being one of three commuters who got on board at the Yetu Complex.
The taxi driver was someone known to her personally.
Hours after she arrived at her parents’ home in the Ompumbu location, the taxi driver turned up, this time to enquire about a cell phone which was allegedly on left in the taxi by another passenger earlier. He accused Johannes of stealing the phone.
Johannes, who readily admits to being short tempered, reacted furiously to the taxi driver’s “provocation”.
The taxi driver contacted the police and moments later a joint police and NDF team arrived and Johannes was arrested and locked up, but was released at around 10:00 Saturday because there was no valid criminal case registered against her.
Speaking to Informanté after her release, she said she is contemplating suing the police, saying that it was clear “from the word go” that there was no case against her.
Johannes said that the taxi driver admitted that he picked up at least four passengers ever since the cell phone was allegedly left on a passenger seat by a commuter who happens to be the driver’s relative.
“The question is: out of four passengers, how did he single me out as the person who stole the cell phone? Yet, the police officers believed him,” she said, adding that the police officers did not even want to hear her side of the story.
When she started crying they allegedly mocked her and accused her of “shedding crocodile tears”, allegedly a common tactic used by female criminals.
“I was arrested like a notorious criminal, locked up in a filthy cell and was given no food from 18:00 Friday when I was arrested to around 10:00 Saturday when I was released. And upon release, I was given no transport back home,” she said.
She further revealed that she was transported to the police cells without a face mask and her body temperature was not measured before she was locked up in a cell with seven trial awaiting women.
“I will sue them. They violated my rights and treated me in a degrading manner,” she said.
Oshana Regional police commander, Commissioner Rauha Amwele, said a person who feels that he or she was treated unfairly by the police has the right to sue, but added that police officers equally have the right to arrest suspects on reasonable grounds that a crime was committed, but can release such suspects when preliminary investigations show that there is no case.