The number of foreign nationals operating pirate taxis in Windhoek that are engaging in suspected criminal activities has increased rapidly, the Windhoek City Police have warned.
City police assistant superintendent for public and community relations Cillie Auala told New Era they recently arrested three foreign nationals suspected of robbery. One of them drove a taxi, that was used as a getaway vehicle.
The suspects were found in possession of unlicensed firearms and a fake Southern African Development Community (SADC) drivers’ licence. “We have noted with great concern that there is a high number of foreigners involved in crime, a high number of taxis being used in the commission of crime, taxis transgressing traffic laws and so many fraudulent reports surrounding taxis,” Auala remarked.
She says they are currently conducting an operation to clamp down on unregistered taxis. Auala noted that they have arrested a number of foreign nationals – from mostly Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – whom they handed to immigration officials for possible deportation.
She explained that even if the taxi is licensed, the fact that the drivers are not Namibian citizens amounts to a contravention of the law. “The law is very clear, taxi driving is an occupation like any other, and anybody who intends to reside in Namibia for the purpose of employment is required by the Immigration Control Act to have a work permit, which can only be issued if we have a shortage of people who qualify to do the particular job that the applicant is applying for.”“Looking at the labour market, Namibia does not have a shortage of taxi drivers, therefore there is no way that our government would issue a permit to a foreigner to come to Namibia to work as a taxi driver. Therefore, all the drivers who were arrested were operating taxis illegally,” Auala further explained.
She gave assurances that the City has put in place measures to clamp down on offenders and have officers setting up temporary roadblocks on a daily basis in and around the city.
“Our patrol officers are stopping taxis at random and inspecting the particulars of the taxis and drivers. If found driving without proper documentation, a fine will be issued to the taxi driver, or an arrest of the driver, or the owner, or both driver and owner will be made.
“The un-roadworthy vehicle will be impounded, or suspended, until such time when proper documentation is provided,” said Auala.
Auala also said if anyone observes or suspects that a taxi is being driven by foreign nationals they should contact the nearest police station or call the City police so that proper investigation can be conducted.
“We would also like to request taxis owners or employers to always verify the particulars and identification documents of taxi drivers before employing them,” Auala advised.