De-bushing is taking place around the suburbs of Windhoek where inmates from the Windhoek Correctional Facility have been roped into ‘Operation Omake’ to help clear riverbeds and thin bushes as a crime prevention initiative.
Several crime-prone areas have been identified and selected. For the last two weeks prison inmates and members of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) have been deployed and armed with petrol-driven chainsaws and heavy equipment to clear bushes in and around riverbeds where criminals often hide at night.
Yesterday the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, accompanied by his commanding officers, took the media along to several of the sites to acquaint himself with the operation on the ground. Operation Omake was launched earlier this month by the Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Namoloh.
Omake is Oshiwambo/Otjiherero for ‘putting hands together’.
The operation is a joint effort between the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), Windhoek City Police and the NDF to ensure there is no place for criminals in Namibia.
Sounds of chainsaws cutting into wood welcomed the group and it was at times ear deafening as one tree after the other was felled under the watchful eye of environmentalists from the city.
What was further observed during the tour was that the environment had changed during the operation and one felt a little relieved to see the area look clean and neat and not as bushy as before.
Heavy equipment from the defence force is also being used to clear the riverbeds.
Concealed and bushy riverbeds in Windhoek have become breeding grounds for criminal activities like rape, theft and murder. Often pedestrians taking shortcuts on footpaths in the shrouded areas put themselves at high risk of dangerous attacks.
Operation Omake was established as per directive from President Hage Geingob to law enforcement agencies, including the City Police, to intensify crime prevention initiatives and public safety operations aimed at combating the increase in crime.
This follows the brutal slaying of the Kuaseua sisters (Cecilia and Jacqueline) on October 9 in Khomasdal.
The directive includes the clearing of riverbeds and spaces that have become a safe haven for criminals; installation of flood and streetlights in crime-prone areas; installation of additional CCTV cameras in crime-prone areas; and strict enforcement of the Liquor Act 1998 (Act 6 of 1998.
The police since the launch of the operation have seized 22 pistols and various weapons ranging from knobkieries and knives, to screwdrivers and handmade weapons.
“We seized a lot of firearms. We recovered a lot of firearms and dangerous weapons during the stop and search operations. We don’t know why our citizens like to be armed wherever they go. They go to recreational places and are armed. They go to shops and are armed. Why can’t we disarm this society? What is sad is that most of these weapons are illegal firearms. We have to make sure that these firearms are confiscated. Report any illegal firearms to the police,” he urged.
Operation Omake will continue for as long as it is necessary and will be rolled out to other cities and towns of the 14 regions through the course of time.