THE violent actions of members of the Namibian Police in Khorixas that were caught on video during a confrontation with members of the public have been condemned in the strongest terms.
According to a statement by the head of the Namibian Police’s Public Relations Division, Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi the incident where a man and woman were manhandled by police officers on duty in Khorixas on Saturday evening is under investigation.
“The Inspector-General of the Namibian Police has stated on many occasions that officers are at no point empowered to assault, brutalize, and humiliate any member of the public,” Shikwambi said.
She said that officers are in fact trained and encouraged to show respect and courtesy when dealing with the public and to serve them with sympathy, professionalism, and to always be conscious of people’s human rights.
“It must however be known that the members particularly those conducting crime prevention operations are sometimes dealing with highly intoxicated, unruly, and uncooperative people, who without provocation, are insulting and even assaulting officers on duty.
The recent incident at Khorixas occurred after a group of people were found drinking alcohol and smoking “hubbly bubbly” pipes at a house in the Damara Mal Location by police officers that were on operational duty.
The bars were closed and people were out after curfew time. Officers introduced themselves and approached the group to ask them what they were doing.
“Suddenly the group started acting disorderly and told the officers that curfew only starts at midnight. A man that goes by the name General, who is reportedly physically challenged, started insulting the officers. He told officers to “voetsek” and called them stupid,” Shikwambi said.
The officers on duty requested the people to end the insults and to get into the police vehicle so that they could be charged for contravening COVID-19 health regulations.
According to Shikwambi, the group defied instructions from the officers and elected to drive to the Police Station by themselves.
“At the Police Station man started getting aggressive and refused to enter the building while General pushed a female officer around while insulting her. He also obstructed other officers and prevented them from performing their duties,” she said.
She said that the officers eventually succeeded to take General’s brother into the police station. The man’s girlfriend suddenly came into the building demanding that her boyfriend be released while using very bad language to insult police officers. She also used her phone to make a video of the confrontation.
The shift commander had to intervene to defuse the situation but General’s brother started to push the officer around and hitting him with his fists. The girlfriend also attacked the shift commander and used her nails to scratch him.
“When the woman attacked him a second time the shift commander slapped her and the situation went out of control,” she said.
According to Shikwambi, two cases were registered in this regard and investigations are underway by the Internal Investigations Division. The cases that were opened are that of common assault, crimen injuria, and a charge in terms of the contravention of the Public Environmental Health Act of 2015.
Shikwambi reminded communities that confrontations between the police and the public can be avoided, if and when there is adherence to the laws and regulations of the country.
“COVID-19 regulations are still being enforced and must therefore be adhered to by everyone because of the pandemic which is still with us. Furthermore, communities must understand that law enforcement operations are very pertinent to their safety and security; and society ought to appreciate the efforts being made by law enforcement agencies to ensure that law and order, safety, and security prevail in our suburbs,” she said.
Shikwambi said that the law enforcement officers’ mission is simply to ensure the maintenance of law and order. Therefore, lawlessness, the undermining of authority, obstructing officers in the execution of their duties, unruly and any other unbecoming behaviour will not be tolerated,”
“The various communities are urged to cooperate and respect the authority, just as we, the law enforcement officers will do everything in our powers to serve and respect the communities we serve,” Shikwambi concluded.