Northern Villages Face Drugs Threat

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By Surihe Gaomas RUNDU Village authorities in Mashare Constituency of Kavango Region are suspecting a new wave of cross-border drug smuggling into the country from Angola. According to the villagers, suspected Angolan nationals allegedly cross the border into certain villages and provide drugs mixed with cocaine to Namibians to sell in the country. However, what makes the whole situation worrying for the village authorities is that many young Namibians have also succumbed to the mad effects of these smuggled drugs, leaving them aggressively crazy and medically disoriented. In several instances it has also resulted in violent stabbings and killings in the community, prompting urgent police investigations into the matter. Two weeks ago, a young woman tragically lost her life after her addicted and bewildered boyfriend stabbed her several times in the chest. The deceased was said to be three months pregnant at the time of her death. Revealing this situation to New Era recently, Councillor of the Mashare Constituency Bony Wakadumo said that one of the growing challenges in the area has been the issue of crime and drugs, especially from the Angolan frontier. He noted that the regional police at Utokota Police Station have been informed about the latest incident. “Drugs are mixed with cocaine and sold by Angolans in certain villages. Now with the cooperation of the police we have identified a number of homesteads in which these drugs are dropped into the hands of Namibians to sell,” explained Wakadumo, adding that there is a 24-hour surveillance of this problem in his constituency. The four identified villages are Katimba, Utokota, Gove and Mantsjenya and are all situated close to the Angolan border. It is suspected that the drugs may be coming from outlets in Angola and filtered through across into Namibia for a syndicate-like business in the country. Due to poverty and unemployment, many youngsters fall prey to this kind of business and ultimately are used in the selling of drugs. “It started almost four months ago, but at first people could not identify where this stuff was coming from,” elaborated the councillor, adding that it was suspected that some soccer players were also under the influence of the drugs as they started off playing exceptionally well in the beginning but gradually under-performed to a state of drunkenness. In view of this some community members were calling for the proper control of people travelling into and out of the country as drugs like these are said to have contributed to a number of rape incidents as well. In an effort to address this latest wave of crime, Headman of Utokota village Engelbert Nantapo held a community meeting together with members of the police force and village development committee representatives. “It is becoming a very big problem and I have seen and heard about many young people becoming mad because of these drugs. Some are even fighting around here,” stressed the village headman. When talking to a couple of youngsters in the area it came to light that the white powder-like drugs are also sold in matchboxes, whereby between one to two grams of the substances are sold for N$5,00 and one kilogram for N$200 to N$300. It turns out that under-aged children have also fallen victim to these addictive drugs as they frequent drinking places. Some are as young as 12, 13 and 14 years of age. “They call it ‘wity’ or ‘stop’ and in the Sambyu language its called ‘lipangwe,’ said another youngster who did not want to be named. It is reported that the youth favour the drugs as they make them feel cool and be brave and aggressive without shame. Villager Bernard Wakudumo concurred that those that sell these drugs are mostly between the ages of 18 and 24 years and that something needs to be done about this problem. Yet as for now the case is in the hands of the police while investigations continue. Meanwhile, when reached for a response yesterday Regional Station Commander in the Kavango Region Olavi Awanga said that such a case of drug smuggling has not yet been registered at the main office in Rundu.