Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY – Detection of the N$206 million worth of cocaine at Namport as well as the arrest of two suspects have put Namibia in the international spotlight, with the world watching how the country will handle the case and what message is sent abroad.
Hence, Namibian Police Force Inspector-General, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga has appealed to police investigators and prosecutors in charge of the case to ensure they eliminate any glitches and technical errors, do a thorough investigation and have a water-tight prosecution.
Ndeitunga also applauded various law enforcement agencies for successfully intercepting the container that was carrying 480 kilogrammes of cocaine from the port of Santos, Brazil to Walvis Bay.
Nampol was alerted about the shipment in May and had the vessel on which the container arrived under constant surveillance.
Police have so far arrested Dinath Azhar, 62, who resides at the luxurious Longbeach resort and Grant Noble, 36, from Narraville, in connection with the case. The duo are in police custody.
“We have successfully carried out the arrest, but hard work lies ahead. We need to do everything in our power to convict whoever is connected and arrested in connection with the case as it progresses. The world is watching us, thus we cannot make a mistake as it will impact our country’s reputation,” said the police chief.
According to Ndeitunga is it very disheartening to note that Namibia and the SADC region in general continues to be used as transit, and is a consumer, of organised criminal activities.
“These criminals are taking advantage of our laws that protect everyone – even the criminals and the peaceful Namibian environment,” said Ndeitunga.
“These criminals see no boundaries and are ready to commit crime whenever the opportunity exists. So let us use everything in our power to get a conviction,” he urged the investigators.
Ndeitunga also appealed to magistrates dealing with such cases to mete out stiffer sentences that would deter would-be drug offenders.
“People are crying about the use of drugs, especially in the Erongo Region. Let us send a clear message that will deter others to commit similar crimes by giving stiffer sentences,” he appealed.
Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu over the weekend told New Era the police expect to make more arrests and they are currently working with international anti-crime organisations to follow up leads.
“We believe more people are involved. Hence more arrests are imminent,” he commented.
The bust is said to be one of the biggest made in recent years in Africa.
According to Iikuyu, the drugs were hidden in boxes and declared as stationery at Customs and Excise. The container arrived on June 9 in a vessel from Brazil that came via Cape Town to Namibia. It was kept under surveillance by port security, which received an international tip-off about the large consignment of cocaine on its way to Walvis Bay.
Sources in the police force also told New Era the cocaine could have easily fetched over N$500 million on the streets, as dealers would mix it with other chemicals to maximise profit.
“We believe that many people are linked to this case and it is just a matter of time before we make arrests both locally and internationally,” an impeccable police source said.
Iikuyu said swift action and cooperation between Nampol, Namport Security, and Customs and Excise intercepted the container around lunchtime at the port of Walvis Bay, as the owners were about to claim the illicit contraband.
“Scanners in the port had already confirmed our suspicions about the container and we were just waiting for the owners to claim the container so that we could arrest them,” Iikuyu explained.
It is unclear whether the drugs were meant for Namibia or were in transit.