The police have reassured the public that police uniforms are not easily available to just anyone, despite the uniforms often being used in robberies.
“Police uniforms as an item are not easily accessible to any person other than a police officer. Police uniforms are strictly reserved for police officers only,” Inspector Slogan Matheus from the Police Public Relations Division informed New Era this week.
“The law is very clear in terms of police uniforms and materials in relation to non-police officers, as in terms of the Police Act no person may without the approval of the minister of safety and security, or the inspector general of the police assume or conduct himself or publish any name or title which may be calculated by others to mean that he or she is a police officer,” he stated. The law attaches criminal sanction for such conduct, which upon conviction includes a fine of N$ 4 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment or both.
The inspector stressed that it is an offence for any member of the public to wear a police uniform, distinctive badge or button, or who by words or conduct or demeanour pretends to be member of the police force.
Last month two men who allegedly posed as police officers and their two accomplices appeared in the Ohangwena Magistrate’s Court for attempting to rob a Chinese business owner in Oshikango.
Albertus Kahembe, 35, and Lukas Nekwiyu, 28, were wearing police uniforms when they were arrested.
Kahembe was wearing an inspector’s rank insignia, and Nekwiyu a constable’s insignia.
The other accused Abner Matheus, 24, and David Oiva Johannes, 27, wore civilian clothes.
The alleged victim alerted the police and all four suspects were arrested.
Last year September, New Era reported three suspects masquerading as policemen allegedly robbed a Nandos outlet at Walvis Bay of N$40 000.
While last year media reports indicated a full police uniform and an unlicensed firearm were found among stolen goods recovered during police investigations into the robbery of a bar at Ongwediva.
The Police Act does not only prohibit the wearing of a police uniform by a non-police officer, it further prohibits any other person from wearing or using decorations, medals, clasps, ribbons or rank insignia issued in the interest of police functions, Matheus said.
Matheus conceded that despite “the strict policy measures in place, a few pieces of police uniforms have landed in the hands of criminals, through theft of police uniforms from washing lines, or housebreakings and so forth.”
“Criminals who have acquired police uniforms through theft do not always have enough or complete uniform pieces, either the correct rank insignia or police badges, or police appointment certificates which must be carried by police officers at all times, thus it is sometimes very easy to differentiate between genuine police officers and criminals pretending to be police officers,” he said.
In the case of Kahembe, who was pretending to be an inspector, his shoes were allegedly unconvincing, hence the Chinese did not fall for the decption.
“Thus, even when a member retires, gets discharged or passes on, the police place much emphasis on ensuring that all uniform pieces and materials are accordingly returned to the police quartermaster,” Matheus added.