No Arrests in Alleged Police Brutality

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK Almost a week after the Mariental debacle in which members of the police and army are accused of assaulting civilians, no arrests have been made despite charges being laid. Police spokesman James Matengu said no arrests would be made until the matter goes before the Prosecutor General who must decide who to prosecute and for what. The police yesterday confirmed they are investigating several cases of assault against several police officers and members of the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) who are implicated in beating civilians at Mariental. Members of the police and their army counterparts allegedly engaged in acts of brutality against flood-affected victims of Mariental, according to the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) that substantiated its claims with photos. Nampol further revealed that its specialised police unit, Complaints and Discipline, has been instructed to investigate the alleged beatings. The statement issued yesterday by Nampol further disputes National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) claims that a Damara-Nama speaking woman was sexually harassed and or indecently assaulted by a drunken Oshiwambo-speaking SFF member. “The complainants claim that Nampol and NDF members attacked and assaulted them without provocation and pointed firearms at them and stole their money from their purses and their physical possession. There is however no allegation of any attempted fondling by anybody contrary to NSHR’s press release,” stated the police. A press statement issued by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) on Monday alleged that a large mob of Special Field Force (SFF) members and Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldiers inflicted grievous bodily harm on at least 10 residents. The NSHR further charged the soldiers were drunk and used their boots, gun butts, batons and sticks and other instruments to assault a certain Ms Trooi Seteris (20), Sara Seteris (43), Albertus Gomachab (47), Elizabeth Nougawases (51), Andries Saal (30), Theresia Saal (25), Fredrick, Osob Jass (39) in Aimablaagte township. However, the implicated Nampol and NDF members claim that the incident was sparked by the robbery of a service pistol from an off-duty constable who reportedly sought and received assistance to try and recover the firearm. In the process of questioning one of the suspects (in the theft of a firearm) the family members of the suspect are said to have become violent and started throwing stones and bottles at the police and NDF members to an extent they had to defend themselves. They also called in for reinforcements, they claim. Some of them sustained open wounds and injuries and had laid charges of assault as per Mariental Cr 10, 16,20,21 and 22/03/2006, Nampol’s statement claims. The firearm in question, a 9mm pistol, was recovered from the Aimablaagte township. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the case docket will be, as per standing procedure, presented to the Office of the Prosecutor General who should decide whether to prosecute anyone, what charges and who to prosecute.