KEETMANSHOOP – The Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator in the //Kharas Region, Deputy Commissioner Rudolf Isaak has appealed for the establishment of a juvenile rehabilitation centre in the region.
He explained that the majority of burglars nowadays are boys aged between 10 and 16 years and usually come from broken homes, with no one to guide them. “We do not really have a system to deal with these young boys. We have approached the ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. It is a challenge really, it is. When we arrest these boys we cannot keep them in the jail cells for too long, because of their ages, but then they go back and do the same thing over and over again,” he said, adding that many of these children’s parents drink all day long.
“We really need something like a centre or maybe like a school where they can be rehabilitated, because even if we go and look for their parents we find some of them at drinking places. The fathers are there, but they do not exercise any form of discipline or guidance and that is why you will find them roaming the streets busy with mischief,” he said. Isaak said a lack of recreational facilities, job opportunities and poverty is what drives these youngsters to drop out of school and eventually to crime.
He is especially dismayed at the rate at which these young boys are lured by older men to orchestrate crimes such as housebreaking and the theft of very valuable items. Furthermore, drug abuse is also a growing concern in Keetmanshoop in particular, where boys as young as fifteen years are caught for possession of mandrax tablets, cannabis and cocaine. He also noted that drug smuggling has become a serious headache for Nampol, especially now that Namibia is a user country as well. “The thing is Namibia was mainly a smuggling route for drug smugglers, but that has changed. Namibia is now a consumer country and many of these things (drugs) come from outside Namibia, in most cases transported in trucks. But it is difficult to catch the smugglers when we do not have scanners at border posts like at Ariamsvlei. It is impossible to track them if you do not have specific information on a certain vehicle,” he said.
He said it is mainly mandrax and cocaine addiction, which is very expensive and which drives young people to steal small livestock on the farms in the area. Stock theft though is now rearing its ugly head in the region and is usually carried out by men aged between 25 and 40 years, who either shoot for the pot or to sell for a buck. The town is also experiencing a spike in assault cases ranging from domestic abuse and general assaults stemming from street fights, according to Isaak. He further highlighted that although murder cases have decreased significantly from an annual average of 12 to only 4 up to this point this year, people still assault each other on a daily basis.
He attributes the drop in murder incidences to the visibility of the police throughout the region, pointing out that police officers go on regular patrols, especially to places where alcohol is sold. “We have spoken very strongly to owners of liquor stores to put mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of their clients. We have also asked to make sure these people are not too drunk when they leave their places and we can really see an improvement,” he noted.