25 January 2013

Namibia: Rural Community Wants Police Station

Utuseb — The community of Utuseb has had it with rampant stock theft and domestic violence and wants the government to establish a police sub-station in the rural settlement.

At a community meeting with police representatives, residents of the settlement lamented the high incidence of stock theft and an upsurge in cases of domestic violence, and said only a formal police presence will make a difference and restore law and order.

They said it usually takes 'too long' for the police to travel to Utuseb from Walvis Bay to attend to cases by which time it is already too late in most instances.

Located about 160 kilometres from Walvis Bay, Utuseb is home to 700 inhabitants who subsist on small-scale farming activities to generate income, in addition to the sale of the wild melon (!Nara) and its by-products to tourists visiting the area and people living in Walvis Bay and other nearby places.

Another major source of income is the monthly old age pension of N$550, and other state grants for orphans and vulnerable children and the disabled.

During a meeting held last week at the JB Brandt Primary School at Utuseb, teachers and residents said they have been experiencing difficulties when it comes to reporting crime.

The unavailability of vehicles to assist residents was one of the key issues raised by the residents when they were visited by the commander of the Walvis Bay Police Station, Patrick Muhita, and the community affairs officer, Sergeant Ulrich Beukes, last week.

According to the principal of JP Brandt, Immanuel Keib, the community relies on the only telephone at the school to alert Nampol in case of emergencies or to report criminal activities, or when someone dies. Poor cellphone reception in the area also prevents residents from reporting crime.

Another teacher charged that in many instances petty crimes such as crimen injuria are left unsettled and this causes rifts between residents. "These issues might seem inconsequential, but on many occasions one needs the presence of Nampol to resolve them, there and then," said the teacher.

She further explained that it is senseless to travel to Walvis Bay to report such crimes since a trip to the coastal town costs at least N$70. "In some instances you would wait for days before you can get a lift to Walvis Bay. This is one of the reasons why we urgently need a police station at Utuseb," she said.

According to Muhita, a sub-station for Utuseb is long overdue and is one of the key issues that will be addressed this year by Nampol. He also said that in the absence of a sub-station, residents must look at the possibility of community policing or a neighbourhood watch, while the police look into the request to establish a sub-station.

"We need to join forces with the community and that is why we are conducting these visits to sensitise them about community policing and all related issues in terms of crime detection and reporting," he stressed.

"Community policing in Utuseb would save Nampol valuable time as some of the issues can be resolved by residents themselves rather than involving the police. That is why we are strongly advocating community policing," Beukes said.

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