18 January 2013

Namibia: Police Accused of Aiding Crime

COMMUNAL farmers in the Ongandjera area of the Omusati Region are accusing the police of aiding stock-theft suspects and not investigating cases properly.

The community is calling for the removal of the Omusati regional commander, Okahao station commander and the Onamatanga station commander while the deputy inspector general of the Namibian Police, Major General Vilio Hifindaka, is also accused of having interfered in an ongoing stock-theft investigation.

Hifindaka allegedly influenced the courts in the Omusati Region to allow a stock-theft suspect to get bail. Information on how he would have managed to do that is sketchy at the moment.

The suspect is Simon Iileka, an owner of a farm at Onamatanga.

Iileka was implicated after a prominent businessman, Peter Gabriel, reported the theft of 20 cattle.

Gabriel, the owner of the Okalindi Group, recovered six cattle from Iileka's farm at Onamatanga after a search warrant was issued.

"Why did they release him while I haven't fully recovered my cattle? The officials should have waited until we finished searching the farm," Gabriel said.

Iileka was arrested in December last year, and was released on bail of N$2 000.

Hifindaka denied allegations that he was instrumental in the granting of bail to Iileka.

"I got a call from Okahao that there was a man who was being mistreated. And as is procedural, I called the people on the ground in the region to deal with the problem," he said.

Hifindaka confirmed that he had called an officer and told them to look into a complaint he received.

He said the judiciary was independent and the police had no authority to demand the release of a suspect.

Hifindaka said he did not know who Iileka was and only responded to the complaint.

"It's normal for me to call people in the regions about the complaints I receive. We have many cases like that. It's an everyday thing," he said.

Brighton Mwala, the prosecutor at Okahao, confirmed yesterday that he had heard about the allegations.

"The person who told me only said that there is a certain general who interfered. That's all," he said.

Mwala said he had never heard of Hifindaka and had not spoken to him.

The prosecutor confirmed that Iileka had two cases of theft pending against him.

Opeipawa Shiyagaya, chairperson of the farmers' union in Omusati, confirmed that a meeting was held to discuss the frustration of farmers about stock-theft investigations.

Shiyagaya, who took the minutes of the meeting, denied that some farmers were calling for the removal of police officers.

However, The Namibian has it on good authority that farmers are not happy with the police.

The drama unfolded during a meeting held under a tree at Okakango on January 12 .

The meeting was attended by about 220 farmers, including those who had lost cattle over the years. The king of Ongandjera, Johannes Mupongolitha Tweuthigilwa yaJafet Mupiya, and his entire traditional authority attended the meeting to discuss the increasing stock theft in the region.

At the same meeting the community demanded that the Omusati regional polie commander, Simeon Shingenge, and chief regional crime coordinator at Okahao, Jacobs Shilunga, be transferred from the region due to their alleged inefficiency in curbing stock theft.

Shingenge said stock theft in the region in fact had decreased over the past years. Police investigation into Gabriel's stolen cattle continues.

Efforts to get comment from Iileka were not successful before going to press.

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