About 70 suspects have been arrested in the anti-poaching operations at Etosha National Park, which are underway since December last year.
Over 40 people were arrested during the first operation that took place from June to August and another 30 suspects were arrested during the second operation, which ran from September to November.
The first operation was headed by the former regional commander of Oshana Region, (Rtd) Commissioner Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa, while the second was led by the Kunene Regional Commander, Commissioner James Nderura.
Speaking during a briefing ceremony for the incoming task force at Otjovazandu camp at Etosha National Park on Tuesday, the Deputy Inspector-General of Operations Major-General James Tjivikua called upon members to rededicate their efforts to combat illegal activities perpetrated against protected game species in the country’s national parks.
“As a law enforcement agency, it is within our mandate to prevent crimes, therefore we must rededicate our efforts to protect our natural resources,” said Tjivikua.
Regional Commander of Omusati Region, Commissioner Shinedima Shindinge takes over the operation from Nderura, the Kunene regional commander.
Tjivikua also called upon the new group to exercise their police powers in appreciation of the human rights conferred on the suspects by treating them with dignity.
“The principles of natural justice, such as that all persons must be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law must prevail at all times. Furthermore, the rule of a ‘48 hours appearance’ in the nearest magistrate’s court by a suspect after arrest must be strictly observed,” stressed Tjivikua.
Although there have been complaints that members of the police deployed at Etosha National Park were deprived of subsistence and travel allowance (S&T), Tjivikua said S&T is a privilege accorded to police on duty outside their regions.
“Therefore, we must not make it a condition or priority before executing our national duties,” said Tjivikua.