NAU alarmed over farm attacks, stock theft

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Windhoek

A week after Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila expressed concern over the high number of incidents of crime, particularly attacks on farmers, illegal hunting and poaching, farmers attending the 69th annual congress of the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) in Windhoek last week expressed similar concerns.

While welcoming the PM’s pledge to address their concerns, representatives of all 75 farmers associations affiliated to the NAU, made it clear that crime on farms must be addressed as a national concern and, therefore, will need the input of every farmer, as well as a new level of cooperation among farmers, crime fighting units and the police.

Introducing the discussion point on Wednesday Bossie Coetzer of the Okahandja Farming Association blamed poor police work and lack of infrastructure, as well as scarcity of transport for the unacceptably high proportion of crime on farms.

“Farmers, as Namibian citizens and taxpayers, have the right to protection of our property and loved ones. The time has come that we demand that the police sharpen their efforts in curbing serious crime countrywide,” he noted.

Speakers from various farming associations pointed out that curbing crime on farms needs a speedy response from the police, if culprits are to be tracked down swiftly. They also pointed out that many factors – including poor police investigations, the disappearance of police dockets and the massive backlog of court cases – compound the issue.

Members also expressed concern that some police officers are susceptible to bribery and, in worst case scenarios, get directly involved in criminal activities, as became clear in a number of recent stocktheft cases.

Speakers from the floor also bemoaned the fact that in many instances the police’s stock theft units are understaffed. The Otjiwarongo stocktheft unit was mentioned as one such an example, where seven officers have to cover an area that stretches all the way to Grootfontein.

Manager of the NAU Sakkie Coetzee said the worrying situation has been brought to the attention of the Office of the Prosecutor General during personal discussions, and that President Hage Geingob has similarly been informed about the situation.

Participants in the congress agreed that farming communities must not try to do the work of the police, but rather the National Crime Prevention Forum, all farmers, the police and neighbourhood watch organisations should take hands on a national level to effectively combat crime and prevent the killing of farmers.

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