THE assistance of the Namibian Police was required to control hundreds of people who crowded the Wernhil Park Shopping Centre in Windhoek to get their hands on special promotions as part of the opening of a new retail outlet inside the mall.
The marked down prices in the new shops caused frenzied activity among shoppers who rushed inside as soon as the doors were opened. Hundreds of expectant shoppers filled the shopping centre well in advance of the shop opening its doors.
According to Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, commander of the Namibian Police in the Khomas Region, the assistance of the police was requested before the start of the business on Saturday to maintain order and to ensure that people does not get injured.
“We ensured that a visible police presence was maintained inside the shopping centre and as far as I could determine no-one was hurt and people mostly complied to instructions from officers. I can’t comment on what exactly transpired inside the outlet but to my knowledge no real damage was done and no one was hurt.”
Commissioner Shikongo said some people became unruly when a rumour spread through the crowd that several armoured personnel carriers from the Namibian Defence Force were parked outside the shopping centre.
“It was an unfortunate coincidence that the APC’s were spotted while driving past the shopping centre. The NDF vehicles and their crews had nothing to do with the special deployment of police officers inside the shopping centre. The armoured vehicles were in fact returning from patrols in another part of the city when were spotted and the rumour started.”
He said the amount of officers deployed inside the shopping centre to keep order was transported there with a Toyota Quantum minibus and the small number were enough to keep order.
A little more than a year ago several people were injured during a shopping frenzy at a popular clothing chain store in another prominent Windhoek shopping centre when clothes were sold at very low prices.
Commissioner Shikongo said the officers sent to maintain order did a sterling job and no incidents of excessive violence were reported. He reiterated his call to officers to observe the rights of the public and for civilians to adhere to the law.