Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Sebastian Ndeitunga says it is costing the police hundreds of thousands of dollars – if not millions – per day to maintain police officers deployed in national parks.
A huge police contingent is currently deployed in both the country’s national parks and conservancies to safeguard wildlife from the spiral of poaching targeting mostly elephant, rhino and other species.
Ndeitunga said it is costly to keep the police in those parks to guard the animals that are under human threat and on the verge of extinction.
“I was not supposed to have police officers deployed there on a daily basis. It is costly,” Ndeitunga remarked while addressing the Chinese business community on crimes affecting fauna and flora and environmental crimes, at a local hotel yesterday.
A Chinese 28-year-old national was recently arrested with 18 rhino horns at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa after leaving Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) with the contraband in his luggage. The 18 horns weigh 43 kilogrammes and is worth an estimated N$6.6 million.
A week later, two Chinese nationals were detained for attempting to smuggle elephant tusks cut in small pieces and hidden in instant coffee tins. They were arrested on their way to HKIA.
Ndeitunga said some people who want to talk down the scale of poaching and say it is not serious. “It is extremely serious, maybe they don’t know. I am involved on daily basis and I am deploying human resources, feeding human resources, equipment, materials and it costing the Namibian police force a fortune”.
The police chief added that he likes what Chinese Embassy is doing, by issuing press releases to raise awareness, which is in line with the government of China and Namibia’s fight against international and transnational organised crime.
“I will see if we can put close corporation with Chinese police. I will not hesitate to ask the Chinese police to come and assist us and I will not hesitate to get a list of those suspected and involved in poaching and hand it to the Chinese police.
“Because you think when you run away from here and go to China (you won’t be arrested). The police will receive you on a red carpet. If you are a Namibian national and run away from there (China), we will receive you according to the law,” said the police chief.
Deputy Head of Chinese Embassy Wu Wei added that the embassy pays keen attention to the recent news of cases involving Chinese nationals suspected of smuggling products of endangered and protected species.
“We strongly condemn those kinds of crimes. The Chinese government holds a longstanding and clear-cut position on the protection of endangered species, like rhinos,” he said.
Wei added that China persists in cracking down on the illegal trade of endangered species and their products and takes an attitudes of “zero tolerance” towards those crimes by bringing any offender to justice.
“The Chinese Embassy will… never condone any illegal or criminal acts by any Chinese national and supports righteous law enforcement efforts carried out by Namibian authorities.”
He added that the offenders are few in number. but the embassy and Chinese community at large will not allow them to tarnish the good reputation of Chinese nationals here.
“The Chinese embassy requires Chinese nationals in Namibia to comply with Namibian laws, to fulfill their social responsibilities and make contributions to the nation building efforts of Namibia,” he concluded.