Forty-six people (of whom two were females) were arrested over the past weekend during an crime-prevention operation by the City Police traffic unit.
A further 23 were arrested at Rehoboth it was announced at a joint press briefing by the City Police, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVAF) and the Namibian police yesterday.
According to Senior Superintendent Adam Eiseb, the divisional head of traffic management of the City Police, 26 drunk drivers were arrested on Friday night alone and another 20 by 12h00 yesterday morning. Their vehicles were also impounded, Eiseb said.
The vehicles were impounded in terms of Section 107 of the City Police Act, which gives them powers to seize any object suspected to be used in the commissioning of an offence. And as the vehicles were used by the drunk drivers to commit the offence they were seized. The vehicles will be released when the rightful owners claim it, Eiseb said.
“In most cases of driving under the influence the drivers are not the owners of the vehicles and in some instances the owners do not even know their vehicles are being driven by someone under the influence,” Eiseb said.
Another reason for impounding vehicles is to prevent the re-occurrence of the offence, he added. He also announced that 11 outstanding warrants of arrest were effected, of which seven were for driving under the influence offences.
Eiseb warned the public that the City Police will continue to monitor motorists for driving offences and said drivers should be safe, rather than sorry. According to him, Namibia faces a serious challenge related to driving under the influence and it is up to all stakeholders to boldly face up to the scale of the problem.
Chief Inspector Amalia Gawanas of the Namibian police traffic law enforcement division informed the media that during an operation in the Rehoboth area they tested 781 vehicles for roadworthiness and the drivers for signs of being under the influence and for licenses.
She said one person was arrested for being in possession of a forged license, while 60 were held for being under the influence, but most were subsequently released as they were not over the limit.Only 23 were arrested for being over the limit.
She said the campaign, christened ‘Operation Opotuli’, will be rolled out throughout Namibia and all 34 units of the police will be involved. It is set to continue until April next year when a new operation will start.
Sidney Boois, senior manager for accident and injury prevention at MVAF, said statistics show that out of every 20 drivers tested only four are sober; that is to say only 20 percent of drivers are sober.
This is a serious and alarming situation that requires drastic action, he said, adding that driving under the influence is only one aspect of destructive driving, but is the single most frequent cause of fatal vehicle accidents and is thus a cause for major concern.