Police Brutality Haunts Force

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

Hardly two years after the chief of police warned that violations of human rights by members of the police were escalating and could not be left unabated, such reports still haunt the police force.

In a recent incident, the State opened a case against one of its police officers that assaulted a civilian at Onungurura, Ohaiua Village in Okanguati.

An assault and gross bodily harm case was registered against Sergeant Paul Mutilifa and is under investigation by the complaints and disciplinary unit.

Kunene Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Mandume Shifonono, told New Era on Friday that he was awaiting instructions from the Inspector General of Police on what course of action to take against the officer.

Shifonono said Mutilifa assaulted Vezembako Tjambiru at a tombo shebeen.

While Tjambiru was still drinking, the shebeen assistant ordered them out because she wanted to close up.

He said Tjambiru gave the assistant N$5 for a glass of tombo but was instead accused of stealing the money. The assistant then called in the Onungurura Out Post Commander, Mutilifa, who arrived on the scene and kicked Tjambiru in the abdomen, on the left cheek and assaulted her with a sjambok on her bottom, Shifonono said in an incident report to the inspector general.

Tjambiru sustained injuries in the process and was taken to Epupa State Clinic. She was later referred to Opuwo State Hospital for further medical attention. She has since been discharged from hospital and Shifonono said her condition was stable.

Medical records indicate that Tjambiru suffered serious injuries on her bottom and chest and she could not pass urine.

In a related development, the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) also reported that a certain Constable Iyambo assaulted Joseph Vahunga after an argument over N$10 he won at a jackpot from Miami System Bar in the Otuzemba Location.

An NSHR statement said Vahunga won N$10 from a jackpot machine, which the constable claimed belonged to him.

“In a threatening posture, Iyambo allegedly ordered Vahunga to hand over the N$10 to him plus an additional N$5 as penalty for taking Iyambo’s money,” the statement said.

The statement further said after Vahunga handed over the money and left the bar, Iyambo and others went after him and beat him up and allegedly robbed him of N$120. It is also alleged that when Vahunga went to lay charges at the police station, Iyambo assaulted him in the presence of other police officers.

But Shifonono could not confirm the incident because the matter was not reported to the police.

NSHR said Vahunga, who is an Angolan national, was afraid to lay charges for fear of being assaulted again.

The NSHR called on the Inspector General of the Police to investigate charges of assault, indecent exposure and theft against the two law enforcement agents.

Namibian Police Inspector General, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, last year ordered in-depth investigations into human rights abuses cited in the US Embassy’s report on human rights violations in the country.

The Namibia Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2006, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, said although the Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, there were problems in a number of areas including torture, beatings and abuse of criminal suspects and detainees by security forces.

Ndeitunga ordered the regional commanders and commanding officers to scrutinise the report and if found to be true, ensure that in-depth investigations were carried out.

He said such acts were not expected from professional police officers entrusted with the maintenance of law and order, ensuring the highest standards of the respect for the rule of law, basic human rights and democratic values.

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