How the police are likely to blunder again
The Namibian Police bungled on the B1 Butcher murders and the Magdalena Stoffels rape and killing case.
From the look of things, they are most likely going to bungle the Avihe Cheryl Ujaha case.
Already, there is talk that the police knocked on doors asking questions in the vicinity where Cheryl was last seen.
It was apparent that the police were either acting under pressure or they were being just The Namibian Police!
The first possible misstep was this adherence to start searching after 48-hours. Somehow, someone did not realise that the person reported missing was a nine-year-old girl who under normal circumstances could not run away to a boyfriend or go partying with friends.
This was about a nine-year-old who, because most probably, she never stayed away from home for that long, her parents realised that something was very wrong.
In any case, any right thinking police officer was supposed to have asked the mother whether the child has a habit of staying away from home for long hours or not.
The assumption that every person who disappears should be reported after 48 hours depends on who would have been reported missing.
The second misstep is the misinformation on the part of some police officers. One such shocking claim is that the body was boiled or cooked.
Surely, would it not have been wiser for whoever knitted such a yarn to wait for expert opinion on the matter before making it sound as if it is the Biblical truth? The police officers who peddled that line of thought have no, and one wonders on what basis they made that conclusion.
The sum effect of making such unproven claims is that the investigation is narrowed to one aspect. This is dangerous in that once such opinion is formed in the public and the investigators' minds, all other leads are discarded.
It's all good to assume that the mutilation was for 'muti', but that again is just that - an assumption because there is no evidence to support it.
Already, by saying it was 'muti' killing, the public court has suspects - traditional healers and churches! In any case, Windhoek mayor Muesuee Kazapua alluded to this fact when accompanied the Prime Minister Sara Kuungogelwa-Amadhila to the Ujahas' home last week.
The fairest starting point is to keep all possible leads open so that investigators can look at the available evidence to conclude.
Judging from how the police have so far handled the case, chances are that they will make mistakes and end up arresting wrong people just like what they did with the Magdalena Stoffels case in 2010.
Stoffels (17 at the time) was raped and murdered in a riverbed on 27 July 2010 while walking back home for Dawid Bezuidenhout High School. Junius Fillipus was arrested for the murder after he was found nearby the scene of the crime. Fillipus spent 291 days in prison and was later released for lack of evidence.
As it is, Stoffels' murderer is still out there because the police failed due diligence when they hastily sought to solve the murder.
In case the nation has forgotten, there is still the B1 murders between 2005 and 2007 where five women were killed that are still unsolved.
Once again, the police arrested an unnamed German-born Namibian as a suspect but had to let him go for lack of evidence.
The point is that the Namibian Police need to be wiser and think like criminals to solve murder cases. The pedestrian approach will not bring them success apart from making blunders and leaving unsolved cases.
There is, maybe, need for the police to disallow any other uninformed officers to peddle unproven information relating to sensitive issues. It would also, perhaps, be better if even the police spokesperson refrains from making conclusions based on his opinion.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not those of The Villager Newspaper’s editorial.