By Anna Shilongo
The National Society for Human Rights has accused police of brutality.
The human rights organisation says there has been several cases in which members of the public have filed complaints with its monitors about the alleged cases of brutality.
” These alleged criminal acts by the maintainers of law and order not only constitute a serious embarrassment to Namibia’s constitutional regime and rule of law, but they also fly directly in the face of the March 26 2007 human rights directive for police officers issued by the Nampol inspector general,” charged NSHR spokeswoman Dorkas Phillemon.
NSHR is seriously concerned about the cases of police brutality brought to its attention.
So far, five complaints of this nature have been reported to the rights body.
Among the incidents reported is one involving Reinhold Lot, a resident of Usakos, who accused the police of having savagely assaulted and subjected him to wrongful arrest that resulted in the complainant sustaining some injuries for which he could not be treated.
Twenty-six-year- old Simon Petrus Hashoongo from Ondobe village in Ohangwena Region is also among members of the public who accuses police of heavy-handedness.
Hashoongo claimed he was assaulted, tortured and subjected to arbitrary deprivation of liberty by Ondobe police officers on April 22.
He said two female officers who came to arrest him at home accused him of stealing a radio. The officers apparently placed his hands on a sharp brick for an hour and a half for him to confess. He also claimed that he was beaten with a rubber baton all over to force him to speak the ‘truth’ after which he made a false confession.
He was apparently released with bleeding hands after the confession.
The radio was later recovered and the two officers returned to him to apologise, he alleged.
The victim claims he was offered N$100 to go to hospital by one of the officers involved in torturing him and that among the officers involved in the torture was a station commander.
A criminal case of common assault (CR No. 11/05/08) was opened against the officer with Eenhana police.
“This person experienced severe pain between his shoulders, in the chest and found it difficult to pass urine,” stressed the spokeswoman.
In another incident reported at Mariental on April 21, 26-year- old Johannes Nanyemba complained of having been subjected to brutal assaults by the two police officers.
“They did not tell him that he was under arrest, let alone the reasons for the arrest,” said Phillemon. The police apparently claimed that Nanyemba was under the influence of alcohol and detained him for drunkenness.
“But even if Nanyemba was drunk, there is absolutely no lawful reason for the police to assault him, let alone treat him in what appears to be a brutal infliction of physical torture on a helpless victim,” said David Kamati, a human rights defender based at Mariental.
Windhoek resident, Theresia Kafidi, also accused an officer of assaulting her physically and attempting to stab her with a knife while Bruce Boois claims to have been assaulted by the police at Bethanie village.
The victim was apparently seriously injured. He was transferred to the Keetmanshoop hospital and later the Windhoek state hospital.
Approached for comment, police spokesperson Chief Inspector Angula Amulungu said police have handed over all the complaints for investigation.
He said the term “brutality” used by NSHR was too strong for some of those cases.
He said the police are guided by the Police Act and other guidelines that give them direction on what to do when such complaints arise.
He dismissed as untrue the NSHR claim involving one woman who claimed she was assaulted by one police officer.
“These people are related and on top of that, they are neighbours. It is true that they were involved in a physical fight but the officer was not on duty as reported. A case was opened against the officer and he was arrested,” said Amulungu.
After the officer was released, the victim apparently went to his house to stone the officer.
” And this case of Usakos, the way the story was reported doesn’t reflect the truth. This person appeared to be under the influence, and he pulled the police officer out of the car and slapped the officer. He was assaulted by fellow inmates and not the officers,” he explained.
” In fact he was the one who came to interfere with officers on duty,” said Amulungu.
Other cases reported are the subject of an investigation by a unit that investigates transgression of members of the force.