New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Cops Detain 21 People At Border

Kahenge — Police in the Kavango Region on Sunday temporarily detained 21 people, among them mothers with three babies, who attempted to cross into Angola from Namibia at Nzinze and Nkonke villages.

The foiled illegal immigration took place some 100 kilometers west of Rundu, after the crossing time had lapsed.

Police indicated the group attempted to cross at unauthorised crossing points at Nzinze and Nkonke villages when they were apprehended. They had initially crossed the border into Namibia to bring their children to school and sell milk but had spent a lot of their time drinking alcohol at cuca shops.

They were detained at the Tondoro police barracks on Sunday evening.

An irked Kahenge Constituency Councillor, Joseph Sikongo, told New Era yesterday he was disturbed by the fact that the group risked their lives because of drinking alcohol and attempting to cross the river at night.

Sikongo said the stipulated crossing times are between 07h00 and 16h00 every day and the group missed the stipulated time.

"Some of you even have babies but you come here and drink till late, what will happen should an accident happen while you are trying to cross the river? Some of you already lost your husbands and wives after they drowned but yet you do not want to learn from what happened in the past," said the councillor.

"If something happens to you then you will blame the government, but you are the very same people who cross the river at night and at the same time cross at unauthorised border points," said Sikongo.

He encouraged villagers who wish to commute between Angola and Namibia to make use of the authorised border points where they can also get assistance from the police.

"Government is spending too much money on retrieving bodies of those that drowned or were attacked by animals such as crocodiles and hippos, therefore we need to curb this illegal practice to save lives," he said.

Two of the group members lost their partners last year when they died while attempting to cross the river.

Police often face difficulties controlling the movement of people between Namibia and Angola because of the vast distances over which the Kavango River - that separates the two countries - stretches.

Communities have however also urged government to put up more crossing points because of the vast distances in-between the designated crossing points, which forces people to walk long distances to the nearest crossing point.

Kahenge Police Station Commander, Inspector Alfons Sindimba, decried the increased cases in which people lose their lives whenever they attempt to cross the river at unauthorised crossing points or at night.

"The communities were warned repeatedly in the past to stop this practice because several accidents have taken place in the past but it does not seem to matter to them," said Sindimba.

He reminded the group that crossing the border at night is illegal.

Sindimba said no charges would be laid against the group, and they would only be issued with a warning before being released.

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