By Charles Tjatindi
The Erongo Regional Police have come out in defence of the Narraville neighbourhood watch.
The neighbourhood watch has been accused of taking the law into its own hands by harassing residents and setting up unauthorised roadblocks, amongst others.
In an interview with New Era, Deputy Commissioner Festus Shilongo of the Erongo police dismissed most of the negative claims against the neighbourhood watch.
He noted that the neighbourhood watch has been doing a great job in providing vital information to the police that mostly led to the apprehension of suspects.
He added that the Narraville neighbourhood watch, like any other established neighbourhood watch, does not operate in isolation, but normally enlist the help of the police in their operations.
“This is a group of young people that have been doing a great job so far. I do not believe they are responsible for harassing people. In fact, they have been protecting the streets of Narraville making them safer for others,” said Shilongo.
Shilongo noted that most of those that seem to be complaining are the ones that are involved in ‘shady deals’, and are merely out to tarnish the name of the neighbourhood watch so that they can have their way. The police chief dismissed reports that members of the neighbourhood watch are allowed to stop and search vehicles at random, noting that they only do so in the presence of a police officer.
“They do not operate on their own. If they suspect something and would like to carry out such an operation, they inform the police, and we dispatch officers to assist them. There is no way they can operate on their own like that. That is not true,” said Shilongo.
The deputy commissioner however noted that there could be a few elements within the neighbourhood watch that operate outside their mandate.
He noted that his office is aware of such members, and have already
convened various discussions with them on their future within the neighbourhood watch.
As a result of this, Shilongo called on community members that might have been mistreated by the group to approach his office and avail such information.
“While saying that these guys are doing a great job, no one is perfect.
“So, if people are really having issues, let them come to me so we can see how best to solve them,” he noted.
Shilongo called on other areas within the harbour town to emulate the good example set by the Narraville neighbourhood watch, and set up neighbourhood watches in their own respective communities.
He also congratulated the neighbourhood watch at Meersig for their efforts in curbing crime. Meersig has not recorded a single crime incident in the last two months, thanks to the presence of the neighbourhood watch, he said.