A wave of violent crimes is sweeping the country with dire consequences for peace and harmony in all our communities. The past few weeks have seen a resurgence of violent crimes that have claimed many innocent lives.
Shockingly, Khomas Police Regional Commander, Commissioner Festus Shilongo, says 96 people died last year from gunshots. Those who died include victims of armed robberies.
It is not just the crime rate that has shot up. Alcohol abuse has increased at an alarming rate and so too have divorces, which the latest statistics put at 2 000 per month. What does this say about the state of our nation and its social fabric - disaster!
Our communities, and society in general, are under siege. We are ravaged and plagued by social ills that threaten to tear us apart. We are already on the brink. The catalogue of violence is too long to list. The country has experienced some of its worst crimes during May and June this year.
Pensioner Magret Shighundje died from multiple stab wounds at Rundu recently, while Martina Ihemba sustained severe body burns after her ex-lover poured hot, boiling cooking oil on her. Two armed robberies were reported at Havana and Otjomuise this past weekend, while a farmer was shot dead in the Dordabis area last week. MP Ben Amathila was attacked in his house.
A Polytechnic student was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend, while another sustained injuries after being stabbed by a security guard at the same institution. The most harrowing of these violent crimes was an incident in Outjo where a gang of five men took turns to rape a woman and thereafter smashed the head of the woman's toddler, who was only two years old, with a rock, before severing the boy's head and other parts of the body. That is how cruel some of these criminals can be. They are uncouth, crude and beastly.
These and many other violent crimes call for extraordinary efforts to ensure the safety and security of innocent law-abiding citizens who are under siege. One such effort should be to understand the psyche of those who commit some of these dastardly acts and the cause of their violent behaviour.
Poverty and unemployment cannot be the only reasons why these criminals resort to their abominable acts and other forms of violent conduct. When men who are old enough to be the father of a two-year-old toddler decide to mercilessly take its life by bashing its skull with a rock, or a security guard stabs a student with a sharp object over the use of a cellphone in a library, surely this is not about poverty.
There must be other underlying causes of the violent behaviour of some of these people. It cannot be otherwise. Therefore, we should try to understand these causes and address them. It could be through a commission of enquiry or any other means. We have to enquire into the minds of these people and get to the bottom of this problem.
Parliament should urgently review all legislation that deals with crime with a view to close any loopholes that may exist in our laws. Our lawmakers would do well to also look at other institutions, including our traditional leaders and courts, and empower them to deal with basic law and order issues, including alcohol abuse in their communities.
There are also too many guns in the wrong hands. Every effort should be made to disarm criminals and to make it difficult for them to acquire firearms. The police are doing a superb job under trying circumstances. Their success record is excellent with so many serious crimes solved and the culprits apprehended. What follows thereafter, when criminals end up finding their way back on to our streets, cannot be blamed on them.
The police require an adequate budget that will provide for their training, equipment and good salaries. It is not uncommon to find police officers hitching rides to get to crime scenes, because of the lack of transportation. Sometimes they are even without telephones. Our police deserve better if they are to provide security and save lives.
We have to commit funds, commensurate with their success rate and ensure that they bring down the escalating rate of crime.