Namibia: Civilian Attacks Operation Kalahari Soldier

President Hage Geingob.
23 September 2019

A member of 'Operation Kalahari Desert' fainted after he was attacked by a civilian whom he allegedly tried to assault at the corner of Dawid Goreseb and Frans Hoesemab streets in Windhoek's Damara Location yesterday.

According to eyewitnesses, the suspect headbutted the Namibian Defence Force member, who lost consciousness and fell to the ground.

The suspect fled from the scene, and the police are on the hunt for him.

Police inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday confirmed the incident, and said the soldier had been admitted at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital.

Ndeitunga said he did not have the details about the incident, but that the soldier was part of a team which had gone to pick up a colleague for a new shift when the incident erupted.

"I am not sure of the details, but it is uncalled for to attack a man or a woman in uniform. They carry our flag, and they are there to help members of the public".

"We will never tolerate this type of behaviour. How can you attack a soldier unprovoked, who had come to pick up his colleague?" asked Ndeitunga.

He said the public should calm their hearts and minds, even if they are under the influence of alcohol.

"They have to respect the men and women in uniform. What we want is a peaceful and harmonious relationship between the public and the operation's members. We cannot have a push and pull relationship," stated Ndeitunga.

The Namibian arrived at the scene yesterday afternoon just after the incident had happened, and the street returned to quiet again as people at nearby shebeens continued imbibing.

The cool, cloudy Windhoek weather had children running around the street and playing games, oblivious to what had just happened.

Men and women stood in groups, sharing cigarettes in the street, while some sat in their yards, chatting about what had just happened to the soldier.

Narrating their accounts to The Namibian, some eyewitnesses were excited and angry at the same time about what happened.

A young woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that members of the operation had asked to search the suspect who was walking idly in the street, and that he had complied with the order.

She said the police then left, and drove off to pick up an officer who lives in the street, only to return and ask the same man why there were many cars parked outside the house where he was.

"The guy said they are seven friends, and they each can afford their own car, which is why there were many cars outside because they also plan to have a potjie [cook out] at the house. The police and soldiers accused them of selling illegal things, saying this is why they can afford cars," claimed the woman.

Another witness said the suspect took out a knife, and the soldier demanded that he hand it over, which he did.

"They [soldiers] were two, and the guy was between them. As soon as the guy handed over the knife, one of the soldiers attacked him, and a fight erupted. He headbutted one of them, causing him to faint," claims the onlooker.

Another eyewitness interjected, saying that five soldiers and police officers ended up attacking the civilian, because he had attacked one of their colleagues.

"Another man was also there, questioning why the soldiers were attacking the civilian," said the young eyewitness, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals.

He added that the soldiers and police wanted to arrest the suspect then and there, but he refused, and said he would rather drive his own car behind them. But he fled the scene instead.

The Namibian witnessed the arrest of the man who had allegedly questioned their authority on the assault of the civilian.

The NDF and police vehicles drove in Dawid Goreseb Street, asking witnesses to provide details of what had happened.

Several armed soldiers, who were driving in a white Iveco bus, stopped at the corner of the two streets, demanding entrance to the house where the potjie was supposed to take place. The occupants of that house had locked the gate. The Namibian witnessed as the soldiers left.

An angry elderly woman, who had witnessed the commotion, said it was unnecessary for the soldiers to attack the young man out of the blue.

"Five people attacking one person? That is uncalled for and unnecessary," charged the pensioner.

A middle-aged man, who had just arrived from church, said he appreciates the presence of the operation since it keeps crime at bay and his children safe.

"My question is, who was at fault? That will answer the question of whether what happened was fair or not," reasoned the man.

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