The Sad Facts about the Namibian Police

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Allow me to share this information in sympathising with our fellow brave men and women in blue uniforms. Firstly, I would like to register my dismay and disappointment with our parliamentarians -both from the ruling and opposition parties. Much has been said by theÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ Namibian people on improving the poor working and living conditions of our fellow brave sons and daughters of this soil since independence, but, to date, nothing has been forthcoming in response to this. Dear parents, if I may address your moral values – do you think what you are doing is fair by torturing these braveÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ heroes and heroines in broad daylight? To be straightforward with you, this is unfair and a prompt positive active response would be much appreciated by all Namibians. As an ex police official myself, I have suffered and observed the following, and, up to now, nothing has happened in the form of change or improvement. One could ask as to why I am I concerned when I am no longer a police officer. My concern is the higher number of skilful and trained police officials with potential that are daily resigning from the police force to look for better packages. I am a taxpayer and my tax is used by the government in training the police officials. With all this background, I want to then inform the reader as well as the parliamentarians as to what causes labour turnover in the police force and some crucial areas that the Inspector General and Government must revise: Poor salaries, poor working conditions and low fringe benefits: The salaries of police officers are very poor compared to their counterparts in the private sector. The group most affected is from the ranks of constable to chief inspector – which is the lowest and worst-paid category in the police force. These people are the most vulnerable and much exposed to danger and life-risking situations during the execution of their duties. They do not get any allowances, bonuses or overtime regardless of how much time is spent on duty. There is no motivation of any kind. For this I would like to propose the following to our government: 1. The professional and occasional allowances that were removed from them in 1996 by Prime Minister Hage Geingob be reintroduced 2. That members that work shifts be paid rotational shift allowances and shift hand-over allowances 3. Members of the criminal investigation units, duty officers and crime officers be paid stand-by duty allowances 4. Those that do perform extraordinary and abnormal duties during independence celebrations and other important commemoration days be paid allowances 5. That all police official’s salariesÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ be revised and upgraded to meet their daily needs. By so doing, you will retain them and entice some that have left the force to come back. This is a motivation of its own. Transport: Police officials make use of taxis to and from work. ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ This is evident, as you would find them at taxi ranks during pick-up and knock-off times. This is a risk, because criminals can easily kill them. Transport is paralysing their official duties, as in some instances they do not have transport to attend to emergencies and calls when approached by members of the public. Surprisingly enough, you will see a high-ranking police official driving around with luxuries police vehicles while the juniors are stranded without transport at the station to execute their duties. Accommodation: Police officials do not have their own police accommodations. Instead they are mixed with public accommodation. This should be changed, as they must have their own barracks like it is done all over the world. There are no barracks available in most towns and the poor constables have to resort to renting rooms or car garages for accommodation. The public service housing scheme and the excessive bank rates are too steep compared to their basic salaries for those people to buy houses even though they qualify. This is inhumane and must be rectified by the government. Meals and recreational facilities: What happened to the canteen and police social clubs? There are no meals or police kitchens where the members can serve themselves whilst on duty and be subsidized by the government. It is shocking to see police officers queuing up in uniform waiting to be served or eating food in the streets like a stranger who has no place to sleep. Why can’t they have their own catering services as well as kitchens at their workplaces? They deserve them, as this is a global practice. In the same vein, the police force must have its sports and recreational facilities like a gym, soccer clubs, karate and other sports disciplines to keep them physically and mentally fit. Social and spiritual services: Police officials are performing their duties under stress due to the nature of the job they are doing and the pathetic conditions that I have mentioned. For this they need to be spiritually and morally encouraged and healed for them to perform their duties healthily. As far as I know, there are no social workers in the police force, no legal counsels/lawyers to assist them when in need or in trouble, no medical doctors, they make use of state or private social workers, state or private lawyers, state or private doctors at their own expense. Even though there is a chaplain or pastor, he cannot really afford to deal with 11 000 people alone countrywide. With these issues I would urge our government to seriously think about it. The lack of these servicesÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ is a contributing factor in our police officials’ involvement in criminal activities such as assault and murder against their partners, corrupt practices, theft, dishonesty, and, finally, quitting the police force. Trade unionism: The Constitution of the Republic of Namibia is the supreme law of this land and therefore I fail to understand as to why police officials are not allowed to have or join a union. Why do we still use oppressive police standing orders and manuals in a free Namibia? I strongly believe this is a serious infringement of these people’s fundamental rights as per our constitution. Why are they silenced and kept in captivity in their own land? Dear General Ndeitunga: I urge your management to revisit the police standing orders and revise them since it is still used as it was used when the SAP was in charge. Please reform the Namibian way. I know there are some critical legal implications involved, but kindly involve the legal experts for advice. Training of police officials: I strongly believe based on evidence that 85% of our police officials are illiterate – there is no doubt about it. This is evident since we are disturbed by newspaper articles whereby police officials have acted in unlawful manner in terms of arrests, detention, poor investigation skills, criminals walk free from courtrooms and are acquitted due to lack of evidence from the state, unprofessional manner of performing their duties at roadblocks and on patrols. Regional commanders that are unable to express themselves when interviewed by the media in reporting crime-related issues and lack of legal knowledge or background. One really wonders how did such members come to occupy such ranks when they cannot perform. This also must be revised by the government. Surveillance equipment systems: We are all disturbed by warnings from the police about prisoners that have escaped from the police cells. This is because the police do not have surveillance equipment like cameras installed at the police stations to monitor the escapees. There are no CCTV viewing stations that must be manned by police officials whilst on duty. Please, General Ndeitunga, this is supposed to be one of your strategies as the head of the police, you need not to be told by us. Lastly, I know that the Inspector General and his team of police officials are trying hard to curb crime, but they do not have the sophisticated resources to fulfil their duties. It is not the General’s mistake that officials with potential are leaving the force – this is the government’s problem and for this I would like to urge our government to seriously look into the matters I have summarized and to take rapid action. In the same vein, I urge the business people of this country to assist in this manner in monetary terms. To assist our men and women in blue uniform in combating crime, because it is with their presence and sacrifices that your businesses are flourishing. To my fellow ex-police officials that are keeping on asking some of us as to why we left the force, there you are, keep it strong. George Trophy Matali Ex-Policeman Karas Region