The Namibian police have expressed “grave concern” over recent incidents of poaching of elephant, rhino, buffalo and other game species in Bwabwata National Park, the supposedly heavily protected Etosha National Park and on game farms, saying the emphasis seems to be on suspects that were shot.
“It appears that a lot of emphasis is placed on the fact that poachers were shot and killed by members of the Namibian Police Force. The printed, as well as social media seem to be abound with these reports,” Major-General James Tjivikua the deputy-inspector general of police operations said.
He noted inasmuch as the Namibian Constitution under Article 6 protects the right to life, the Criminal Procedures Act of 1977, as amended under section 49, makes provision for an arrester to use force in effecting an arrest, if need be.
He said the Act states if a person that is authorised under the Act to arrest or assist in arresting another, attempts to arrest such person and if such person resists the attempt and cannot be arrested without the use of force or flees, force may be applied.
He said under such circumstances a person legally authorised to effect an arrest may use such force as is reasonably necessary to overcome resistance or to prevent the person resisting lawful arrest from fleeing. Under such circumstances where force is necessary and the suspect is shot and killed as a result, such a killing is “deemed to be justifiable homicide,” he further explained.
In light of a recent incident in which a man – said to be a farmworker – was shot after he was mistaken for a suspected poacher, Tjivikua said: “Law enforcement officers operate in various precarious and difficult circumstances and within a blink of an eye, an officer is expected to take a critical decision. We are not infallible and, therefore, are bound to make mistakes under the circumstances.”
He stressed that the police are mandated to maintain law and order, investigate alleged offences, prevent crime and protect life and property.