Police to Swoop on Shebeens

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By Charles Tjatindi WALVIS BAY Erongo police have been working round the clock to curb crime in the region. Lately, the focus has been on shebeens. The regional police will soon clamp down on shebeens and operators found violating the stipulated closing times will have a rude awakening. Erongo Police Public Relations Officer, Detective Sergeant Julia Nuuyoma, in an interview noted that the police have been monitoring shebeens in the region and realised that some were not adhering to closing times as stipulated by an earlier agreement between the two parties. The closing time for shebeens is midnight on weekends and even earlier on a weekday. Despite this regulation, Nuuyoma noted that most shebeens are often found operating way past regulation time. “When you go around after midnight, you will still find a lot of shebeens open. Some even remain open until sunrise,” said Nuuyoma. Nuuyoma noted that the extension of operating hours by shebeens promotes violence and criminal activities at these drinking holes as patrons become heavily intoxicated. Two years ago, shebeen owners held a mass protest against the regional police’s decision to close down some shebeens at the coast, which culminated in a national protest march in Windhoek. The shebeen owners then complained about how the closure of shebeens would impact negatively on their livelihoods with some arguing that they were entirely dependent on shebeens for a living. Prompted by the demands from shebeen owners, relevant stakeholders present then reached an agreement with shebeen owners, which inter alia stipulated mandatory operating times for the shebeens. It is this agreement that the Erongo police feel is being breached by the shebeen owners. The police have also warned members of the public, especially in Walvis Bay who allegedly urinate in public to stop doing so. Nuuyoma noted that the police will no longer tolerate such a situation, adding that offenders will be severely punished. “It is not only unhygienic when people urinate in public, but the spots left by the urine on the ground, which do not drain easily given the type of soil here – is a complete eye-sore,” said Nuuyoma. Erongo police have also stepped up efforts to deal with the rising number of stock theft incidents. Erongo Police Regional Commander, Deputy Commissioner Festus Shilongo, earlier gave the assurance that his office will do everything possible to rid the region of stock theft. The police have been consulting headmen and other traditional leaders in the area on best practices to tackle the issue. Shilongo said major towns in the region have become trading grounds for suspected stolen livestock, which according to him are stolen from nearby villages. He noted that most livestock stolen at Uis and Omatjete and surrounding areas usually find their way to informal trading markets in Swakopmund as meat. Livestock stolen from Karibib and surroundings, however, find their way to Okahandja, where they are sold in the same manner. One possible strategy that could be employed by the police, Shilongo noted, is to approach individual traders at informal markets and demand ownership documentation of animals slaughtered. The police have set up a stock theft unit in Omaruru to deal with the rising number of stock theft cases. Shilongo, however, noted that the success of such an initiative entirely depends on the input of communities and how they assist the regional police. He cited a few areas that need improvement from the community if they are to reap maximum benefits from the police venture. They include proper branding and marking of livestock.