8 November 2018

Namibia: Overzealous Police Fatally Shoots Fuel Vendor

Ongwediva — The police in Oshana Region have not yet made any arrest in the police shooting which claimed the life of 26-year-old Johannes Tatemona Hailume, whose life was cut short allegedly by the police.

Hailume died under a hail of bullets fired by the police, one which struck him on the head and another ripped his stomach - said his grief-stricken family who also said this happened last Friday while he was fueling taxis with smuggled fuel in Ongwediva.

The fuel is said to have been smuggled into the country from Angola, where multitudes of Namibians fetch fuel and resell on the so-called black market in Namibia.

In addition, the bullets that struck Hailume, the car he was driving, a Toyota pick-up, was riddled with eight shots - four shots near the driver's door, one in the front wheel and three others on the rear window.

Oshana Regional Crime Investigation Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Hilja Haipumbu, said three suspects were taken in for questioning but have since been released.

Haipumbu said investigations into the matter are still ongoing.

According to Haipumbu, the police have opened five charges against a suspect - presumably a police officer whose identity has not been released.

They range from murder, attempted murder, discharge of firearm in municipal areas and a charge of contravening act no 1 of 2010, Tobbaco Products Control Act.

Eye witnesses at the scene on Friday alleged two police officers in their private cars appeared at the illegal petrol station and started firing indiscriminately with their state-issued service weapons.

The taxis including Hailume started fleeing; however he did not manage as he was allegedly shot dead at the scene.

The police in the process allegedly only managed to arrest three suspects.

Witnesses refuted claims taxi drivers or the deceased fired at the police.

Haipumbu said the police were tipped off regarding the illegal petrol dealing, but when they got to the identified spot, an exchange of gunshots erupted between the police and about 30-50 taxi drivers at the scene.

Contrary to eye-witnesses that there were only about 15 taxi drivers as they leave once they have fueled.

New Era has it on good authority 20 spent cartridges were found at the scene.

Haipumbu refused to comment on the number of spend cartridges found at the scene, saying it is part of the ongoing 'investigation.'

Haipumbu said the number of shots directed at the deceased would also only be determined by a postmortem.

The postmortem was done on Tuesday.

"We don't really know, that is part of the investigation. It was an exchange of fire. But from the side of the police, we have taken in all the firearms that were on duty and we have send them for investigation," Haipumbu said.

Hailume's family claims that the police have been feeding them with conflicting information of what really transpired.

The family alleged that the police initially claimed that the deceased fired shots at the police; however when the family demanded to see the gun used, the version was changed with the police now allegedly claiming that it was his customers, the taxi drivers who fired at the police.

"Why did they shoot him directly, he was no danger to anyone because he does not own a gun," his brother Simon Mweuhanga related.

Hailume was allegedly in possession of 20, 25 litres containers and had used up eight of the containers before he was allegedly shot.

The family said it will do all it can to ensure that they find justice for Hailume who is survived by a month-old baby.

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