Cops Recover Huge Volumes of Loot

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Space to store stolen goods and other contraband confiscated in recent police operations around Windhoek is running out because of the large quantities of goods being retrieved from criminals. Since the beginning of this month, the police have been acting with a vengeance to root out crime in the country and on Monday, one of their many successes – a wide array of recovered stolen property – was shown to journalists at the Wanaheda Police Station. Operation Black September as it is called, resulted in the police recovering a haul of goods ranging from guns, homemade weapons, knives, generators, wire fencing, clothes, shoes, photocopy machines, copper wire cables, television sets, laptops and heavy industrial goods, including 14 tyres for heavy duty vehicles. Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the tyres valued at N$120 000. It is reported all 79 of the firearms that have been seized by the police are unlicensed. Most of the firearms were mostly recovered either at shebeens or common drinking places, while others were confiscated from gangs in riverbeds and along streets. “Most of these guns don’t even exist on our database,” explained Station Commander of the Wanaheda Police Station Chief Inspector Andreas Nelumbu as he showed reporters a storeroom full of hundreds of weapons and other items. He further urged the public to collect their goods as some have even been there since 2003 due to the backlog of court cases and people not coming to fetch them. If not collected most of the stolen items will be put on public auction Concerning firearms, the public is strongly advised to keep them in a wall-fixed safe under proper security, because if they land in wrong hands, they can be fatal and the owner of the firearm could be charged with negligence. “It is against the law to discharge a firearm within a municipal area,” added Chief of the City Police Abraham Kanime. Placed on the opposite side of the hall was a table full of an undisclosed number of knives – all seized since the beginning of the year. Chief Inspector Angula Amulungu of the Public Relations and Liaison Department said while hunting knives are sold to people for a particular purpose, carrying them around in public is a crime. “Walking around with such knives in the public is a criminal offence and if you are seen walking in town and threatening people with them, you will be caught,” he explained. Being found in possession of such dangerous items without a valid reason and proof could ultimately result in the person being charged and punished before a court of law. With crime increasing most of these weapons result in murders, robbery and suicides, which have become common in the country. However, the law enforcement authorities are optimistic that with the ongoing crime prevention operation in confiscating goods, the level of crime has reduced drastically in the Khomas Region. Since the start of the operation, serious crimes have drastically reduced, added Police Commissioner of the Khomas Region Samuel //HoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«beb. Among the other successes to date are 37 illegal immigrants who were arrested. They are mostly Angolan males, a couple of Congolese and Zimbabweans. Furthermore, 20 shebeens have been closed down after being found open after legal operating hours, six people have been caught for drunken driving, 10 were arrested for being in possession of cannabis or dagga and seven for being in possession of stolen property. With regard to traffic offences, 636 summons have been issued with a value of N$103 000. Topping the list of these offences were 39 cases of failure to wear a seatbelt, 131 for failing to produce a driver’s licence and 49 unlicensed vehicles. At the same time, caution was given to the public about ATM theft, which is said to be on the increase. The success of the operation largely depends on tip-offs from the public, while police force members also take their own initiative to investigate and concentrate on crime-centred areas like shebeens and riverbeds, plus mobile roadblocks and increased vehicle and foot patrols in all three police station areas in the capital. The operation started on August 3 and is planned to run until September 30 this year. The aim is to achieve “a highly visible” presence by police by taking a zero tolerance approach towards crime. It is anticipated however that crime prevention operations would be extended given their success rate.