20 December 2012

Namibia: Carry an ID When You Travel

WHEN a police officer requests a person for identification, it must be produced.

Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, a police spokesperson, yesterday said: "As an adult, you need to be able to identify yourself. It's safe to have the document."

He said the police are looking for a number of wanted suspects. Should someone be suspected to resemble a fugitive and cannot provide identification, the person will be detained by the police, he said.

Moreover, Namibia has a big problem with illegal immigrants. To prove that a traveller is not in the country illegally, identification should be produced when asked for by police officers.

Buses in particular are targeted by the police during this period, he said.

Kanguatjivi further criticised parents who let their minor children travel unattended.

He lashed out at a specific incident where police officers did not want to let a ten-year-old go at a roadblock outside Swakopmund, saying the parents acted irresponsibly. "What if that child had been kidnapped? You would've blamed the police for inaction."

A reader complained that on December 17 at a roadblock at Swakopmund, police officers stopped a bus with passengers travelling from Windhoek. The police officers asked for identification. "A ten-year-old girl was given hell by the rude officials because she had no passport on her. They wanted her to get out of the car and stay behind until somebody would come to identify her and prove that she is a Namibian citizen! Can you believe this?"

The reader said Namibia has no law stating that all citizens must have identification on them at all times, let alone a passport. "Home Affairs has no passports anyway; they have run out of stock months ago already! And kids cannot have an ID. So what now?"

Kanguatjivi admitted that it was "not a crime not to carry an ID all the time" but advised that it would be a good idea.

He said the complaint about the incident with the child was "an illegitimate complaint. The police officers had every reason to ask for identification. If the driver does not know the child, there is reason for the police to be concerned."

He said parents should preferably have their children's birth certificates with them when they are travelling.

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