Police in the northwestern town of Outjo are highly concerned about bar-hopping young girls roaming the streets at night.
Addressing a public meeting early this week that was attended by shebeen owners the Outjo station commander Chief Inspector Adolf Xamiseb said the police have noticed an increase in young girls hanging out in streets late at night, especially in informal settlements.
“The parents of these children must speak to them,” Xamiseb said.
Besides the concern about girls loitering at night those at the meeting felt shebeen owners should guarantee the safety of patrons frequenting their watering holes.
In response Xamiseb said the safety of patrons is the responsibility of shebeens owners.
The mushrooming of shebeens in informal settlements is attributed as the reason for the increase in crime in the settlements and the surrounding areas. Some cuca-shop owners are said to possess business licenses allowing them to sell food but they illegally sell alcohol. However, the police said they were being monitored and very soon action will be taken against them for contravening the Liquor Act.
“Crime is increasing in informal settlements especially assaults,” said the chief inspector.Members of the //Khaubasen anti-crime network established by Magret Pieters were also present at the community meeting.
The organization was founded after the brutal murder of 29-year-old Engenesia /Ais at the town in May. It does community policing especially addressing increasing incidents of gender-based violence.
Pieters said the community-policing network which consists of various tribal groups will work with the police but will try to solve certain problems before handing them over to the police, depending on the gravity of the alleged transgression.
“We will assist police in fighting crime. Some cases will be resolved by the network but police assistance will only be sought if we don’t resolve these problems ourselves,” Pieters said.
Pieters further said some men are also abused by women and she implored them to come out and expose their abusive spouses and girlfriends.
Pieters urged the community not to turn a blind eye to abusive relationships but rather to involve the community police as abuse if left unchecked could lead to murder.
Pieters also accused the police of being reluctant to act at times when matters of domestic violence are reported to them and further urged the community to write down the name of the police officer and time when the report was made to him or her.
According to Pieters domestic violence at Outjo is widespread as some women prefer to stay in abusive relationships because they have no other place to go. Women are said to be thrown out of their partners’ houses late at night and //Khaubasen anti-crime network plans to build a shelter for abused women and children on the plot donated by the Outjo Municipality to cater for these victims of GBV.
The network meets every second week at Tabitha Center. They also monitor houses when owners are away.
Xamiseb said the police would work hand in hand with the community policing network as they highly value any fight against crime.
The community policing network will soon be registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and it has called on organisations which offer leadership and counselling services to render training. Counselling is offered to those who go through abusive relationships and Pieters herself is a trained counsellor.
Outjo has seen a spate of brutal murders and rapes committed against women with the brutal hacking to death of /Ais with a panga over the Easter weekend this year. Last December a woman was stabbed to death at Outjo District Hospital by her ex-boyfriend.