Crime on the Wane Until Holiday Time Again

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By Petronella Sibeene WALVIS BAY Although crime is reported to be on the decrease in the Erongo Region, Police have expressed worry over the negative public attitude towards law enforcement . This year, a number of police officers were attacked whilst busy with operations. Deputy Commissioner Andrew Iyambo of the Namibian Police in the Erongo Region told New Era yesterday that he was concerned about the increasing attacks on his staff. Although he says this has been going on for a long time, the trend seems to be on the increase. As a result, he said his office is currently undertaking a study that would dig deeper into this matter. “This is an old thing, but it is now becoming serious,” he said. Although he could not provide specific figures, he added that “several charges have been lodged regarding police being attacked”. The latest incident involved a policeman who was attacked by a civilian who bit his hand, while in a different incident an officer was stabbed in the arm. The deputy commissioner added that it has become difficult of late for departments to assign only one police officer to a scene due to attacks and lack of respect for officers. This on its own poses yet another challenge, as there are few staff members at the town. Despite the shortage of staff, Iyambo described the situation as being not too bad and that they are managing, under the circumstances, in terms of bringing order to the region. This year has been fraught with difficult situations. In May, police in the region started with the anti-illegal shebeen operations which Iyambo says has brought down criminal cases at the town. On average, the Walvis Bay Police used to record 50 to 60 cases while other areas such as Kuisebmund had 70 to 80 criminal cases per week. After the campaign, the Deputy Commissioner reported that the cases had been reduced to less than 16 per week. In the middle of this year, the town saw yet another crime type – armed robberies. The crime that entails proper planning and intelligence, according to Iyambo, became rampant in Swakopmund. It involved five men and one woman who led the gang. All six were arrested. Housebreaking also became a problem in the region where robbers gained entry through the roof of a house and also cut the alarm wires (dis-alarm), using a cutting torch, and accessed money safes. This spread from Karibib to Arandis, Omaruru and Khorixas before the culprits were apprehended in Usakos. The latest incident was reported on Tuesday night of this week in Arandis when six men broke into a gambling house. The burglars were found at the scene loading three gambling machines into a Combi. They fled after a few gunshots were fired into the air, and were caught at Karibib. Two of the suspects were arrested and are yet to appear in court, but four of them are still at large. The driver of the mini-bus used for the crime alleged that he was hired just to drive the suspects who were reported to be from Windhoek. “All in all, we are in control; crime is not that much,” Iyambo said. He also revealed that domestic violence last month was on the increase. He associated this situation with an increased number of young sea workers who have money to drink. As the festive season draws nearer, Iyambo informed New Era that law enforcers are gearing up for this period when crime is likely to go up due to an influx of people to the coastal areas. With the support of the Motor Vehicle Fund (MVA) and its campaign “Xupifa Eemyenyo” (Save Lives) to be officially launched next week Friday, Iyambo says this season there is no room for crime. “This year, we will not tolerate any form of crime. There will be zero tolerance on crime,” he warned. The highway between Karibib and Swakopmund is reported to be prone to accidents. This, Iyambo explained, could be due to the large stretches the country is known for where drivers have nothing interesting to look at and are distracted from being alert. “Most accidents are due to tyre bursts or loss of control. People want to rush to Swakopmund where they can see something,” Iyambo said. As always, the roads will have law enforcers and traps to root out offenders.