RUNDU – The Rundu Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday arraigned three Nkurenkuru-based policemen who face criminal charges for alleged theft, robbery, extortion and corruption in a case that is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the image of law enforcement in the country.
The three policemen who find themselves on the wrong side of the law are Bennett Gadaffi Blostain (27), Ricardo Dinaob (24) and Kaveto Daniel Sitentu (27).
They were arrested on Monday at Nkurenkuru, about 110 kilometers west of Rundu, where they were busy harassing small traders at the town’s open market to give them money or face jail time for allegedly selling counterfeit goods such as shoes and clothes.
The three were pretending to be conducting undercover operations to extort money from the vendors, although they were in fact not even on duty at the time it is alleged.
Their case has been remanded to September 23 for further police investigation.
Rundu Magistrate Hellen Olaiya notified the three accused about their legal rights to enlist the services of a lawyer of their own choice. One of the accused indicated that he would like to engage a private lawyer, while his co-accused said they would apply for legal aid.
State Prosecutor Elina Hashipara said during court proceedings that the State objects to granting bail to the accused, because police investigation into the matter has not yet been finalized, while many valuable items that the three acquired fraudulently have not been recovered yet. The trio will therefore remain in custody.
Information from the court suggests that the policemen face three counts of theft involving N$6520. Regional Crime Investigation Officer, Deputy Commissioner Willie Bampton, told New Era that there is information that suggests the accused cooperated with some shop owners by alerting them to hide illegal products whenever the police had planned to raid their shops.
Last weekend the three accused used their appointment certificates to rob traders of about N$1500 and clothes at the town’s open market it is alleged.
Police information further suggest that the policemen, all three relatively new in the force with less than three years of experience, are known to have been behind the scam for quite some time now.