THE Minister of Defence, Penda Ya Ndakolo, has said that some rotten eggs in the defence force are contributing to the violent and deadly clashes with civilians that were reported during crime-fighting operations and that there is no deliberate policy of shooting at or killing innocent civilians.
In the same breath, the ministry noted that the two victims who were fatally shot during the operations were either trying to avoid or running away from the members on patrol.
“The Ministry of Defence has no deliberate policy of shooting at or killing innocent civilians, but the behaviour of some rotten eggs is contributing to these incidents. In all the recorded cases involving Namibian Defence Force (NDF) members, the victims were either trying to avoid or running away from the members on patrol,” Ya Ndakolo said.
Ya Ndakolo made these statements yesterday in parliament while delivering a statement on the growing public outrage against the recent civilian shootings by the NDF while on the joint crime fighting operations with the Namibian police (NamPol)
He further emphasised that there are no deliberate orders, either from the Commander in Chief nor the Minister or the Chief of the NDF to kill innocent civilians, but that the situation on the ground unfortunately resulted in shooting incidents in which lives were lost.
The most recent shooting and killing of a civilian by a member of the NDF appeared earlier this month, when the diseased, identified as Benisius Kalola, 32, was caught recording a video of the NDF during a drug raid in Single Quarters, Windhoek.
Ya Ndakolo stated that members of the public are not authorised to record videos of patrol actions as it is very dangerous and such a video could be used to identify the members of the force for possible revenge or some other criminal activity.
The Minister further stated that to prevent further incidents of this nature, all members participating in the operation underwent a three day induction course which included, amongst other subjects, the code of conduct, common rules of engagement and the Criminal Procedure Act.
Ya Ndakolo stated that after the last incident, the chief of the NDF amended operational orders for the same purpose of avoiding more fatalities.
“But for us to succeed in ensuring that our people and their properties are protected from criminals there must be mutual understanding and cooperation between the public and the security forces involved in the anticrime operations. However, I must make it clear that the NDF, for which I am responsible for as Minister of Defence, will not tolerate any kind of behavior and actions that could endanger the lives of the soldiers,” Ya Ndakolo stated.
He added that anyone who might harbor any ill intentions towards NDF members, who are simply performing their official duties to protect Namibians and their properties from crime, will be dealt with accordingly.
“Things like abusive language, threats and or potential or actual revenge actions towards NDF member will not be tolerated and will be responded to swiftly and adequately,” Ya Ndakolo warned.
Currently, The People’s Litigation Center (PLC) has laid a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the alleged crimes committed against Namibian civilians by NamPol and the NDF.
According to a letter dated 6 September, the complaint was necessitated by the reported widespread incidences of crimes against civilians, including extra judicial killings by the Namibian security forces in their execution of then Operation Hornkranz and now Operation Kalahari Desert.
To date, 3 civilians have lost their lives including the above mentioned, 32-year-old Kalola, as well 21-year-old Herman Shiimi and Zimbabwean taxi driver, Talent Fambaune, 22.
“The People’s Litigation Center is hereby lodging a complaint against the Namibian Police Force, the Namibian Defence Force, the Namibian Correctional Services and the Windhoek City Police in terms of the Rome Statute Article 7, Crimes against Humanity,” states the letter.