Police Pay over N$1.6 m to Victims

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Police brutality and other unbecoming professional acts resulted in the Namibian Police compensating victims, who took government to court, more than N$1.6 million during the 2005/2006 financial year. The N$1 665 844.94 compensation emanated from 105 civil claims by members of the public who took government to court. Safety and Security Minister Peter Tsheehama, who addressed senior and middle management staff of the police last Friday, revealed that his ministry is constantly presented with numerous civil claims emanating from unlawful arrest, detention, assault and search. As a result, the government has paid significant damages. He advised officers to be more careful this year to avoid repeating the same mistakes and called for the restoration of the “police and prison culture”. If it were not the unprofessional handling and indiscipline of some police officers, he said, this money could have been used in needy areas by the police. Tsheehama called on senior officials in the force to look into the issue critically, adding that if there is need for retraining courses on professionalism, this step should be taken. Since discipline is considered the backbone of any uniformed organisation, the minister urged the police and prisons services to ensure strict discipline and deep-rooted principles of accountability, honesty, transparency and administrative fairness. While officers sometimes work in environments that are prone to temptation, the minister urged officers to guard against falling prey to corrupt practices, bribery, collaborating with inmates, using prohibited substances such as dagga and sneaking in cellphones amongst others. “Three packets of dagga were sneaked in by one officer, cellphones have been confiscated in huge numbers. We want effective control and those in charge, if not doing their work, we will equally go and control,” he told senior officials. Tsheehama also strongly warned officers who are in the habit of reporting late for work, adding that this is unacceptable and those found guilty will be dealt with without mercy. “This is unacceptable, it should not be tolerated. Those in charge must be seen to administer, their chiefness should be felt. Do not fear giving orders, do not fear giving punishment to your surbodinates,” he advised those in top positions. He added, “To you the senior management of police and prisons, I want you to instil discipline in your members. You should be good and exemplary to your force members. You should remember that you are law enforcers.” The minister once again sounded the warning bell when he stated that senior managers who fail to effectively deliver the expected services will be dismissed. “Those who are dismissed start feeling it after three months when the income is stopped. I have so many requests from those dismissed to come back. Why should the force bring back the bad people,” he said. Officers at all levels were called to seriously change their attitude and apply a sense of discipline at all times. Among those present during the address were his Deputy Minister Gabes Shihepo, Permanent Secretary Peter Mwatile, Commissioner of Prisons Evaristus Shikongo, and Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga.