By: Andrew Kathindi
Inspector General of the Namibian police, Sebastian Ndeitunga, says that he believes that sacked officers could be the ones committing crimes while in police uniforms.
This comes after, on Sunday, five unknown men dressed in police uniforms mounted a roadblock on the B1 Road at the turnoff of Florence Nightingale Road in Khomasdal, Windhoek.
The robbers hijacked a 27-year-old woman’s VW Polo and left her and her baby by the roadside.
According to the police report, one of the suspects hit her with an unknown object on the head, and she became unconscious.
The car was later found in Goreagab around 22h30, stripped of the battery, front lights, mirrors and VW badges.
“I am aware of the incident. I’m very concerned and worried about how criminals access police uniforms. I suspect some police officers who were discharged and issued pairs of uniforms did not surrender them when the force,” Ndeitunga told The Villager.
Ndeitunga also said that some of these uniforms fall through the cracks and are kept by former officers, and they eventually end up in the hands of criminals.
“It’s a worrisome situation. After some incident in Oshakati, we issued directives to all commanders and supervisors on the ground, but I am surprised that this incident has repeated itself.”
Crimes committed by individuals masquerading as police have been reported as far back as 2012.
In August last year, several men who wore police uniforms robbed a Cameroonian businessman on the road between Onhuno and Eenhana near the Okatope cemetery, taking four bags of car parts collected from various scrapyards in the area at an estimated value of N$300 000.
The IG of the police appealed to anyone who has information about people who have police uniforms in their houses while they’re not police officers. We’d love to receive those reports to deal with the situation.
“I understand they also had a flashing lamp, but that can be bought at any store.”
Quizzed on whether these incidences could create mistrust between citizens being approached by someone in police uniforms, Ndeitunga said, “reasonably so. But members of the public can understand that this incident, even though it happened, there is a degree of trust in the national police. But, of course, in some quarters, it might create mistrust in the public’s mind when it comes to police operations, but I appeal, the public should trust in the police while we try to deal with this type of incident not to happen again.”
Marshal Ranger Sean Naude said that Namibian criminals were beginning to copy South African criminals who even go as far as branding their cars to look exactly like police vehicles.
“It is a very big concern when the citizens of a country should doubt the men and women in uniform, whether they are legitimate or in the position to be conducting these activities. I have a case where someone reported to me in Klein Windhoek that two people in a black Sedan VW pulled over a man that was busy walking, and they did a body search on him and were wearing a Nampol jersey and vest. They pretended to be police, and they robbed this young man of his belongings. These people were thankfully arrested, but this is just one example.”
We had a case where someone informed me the police pulled him over, and they were looking for a bribe before they let him go.”
In 2015, four men allegedly posed as police officers and attempted to rob a Chinese business owner in Oshikango. They were, at the time, wearing police uniforms when they were arrested.
Naude said citizens have a right to ask police officers to present their identification cards and station numbers, call the station and confirm.