12 November 2012

Namibia: Ndeitunga Defends Copter Purchase

Windhoek — Police Inspector-General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, recently urged police officers to be patient, adding that the nation as a whole is concerned with their poor salaries. "We are doing all we can," Ndeitunga assured them.

Ndeitunga was speaking to New Era after some police officers expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the police force is buying helicopters, while its members are poorly paid and unable to afford houses that are priced beyond the reach of many public servants.

The Namibian Police Air Wing recently acquired an N$80 million EC145 multi-role helicopter, enhancing its fleet of helicopters that will be used to combat escalating crime. Defending the decision to purchase the helicopters, Ndeitunga said: "The helicopters were not bought to ferry potatoes."

The helicopters are a vital component of the equipment used to combat crime and to save lives, he said.

Ndeitunga added that once faced with a situation of safety and security, the country has to have the capacity to respond. "I can't patrol with donkey carts."

Last month Ndeitunga said police were investigating the source of text messages (SMSes) that are circulating urging police to strike over low salaries.

Ndeitunga said while he is sympathetic to the plight of police force members, "it is illegal for the police to go on strike because their work is deemed an essential service".

He confirmed that the police want an increase in salaries - and wage negotiations are in progress. It was initially thought that the increase would be granted by April this year, however this did not materialise due to budget cuts.

"Government has a lot of priorities, something may have come up that needed to be covered," the police chief said.

Police, nurses and teachers are increasingly restive over poor salaries and the rising cost of living.

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