NAMIBIAN Police deputy inspector general Oscar Embubulu yesterday condemned the violence perpetrated against members of the public by Operation Kalahari Desert' officers.
He said this at a press conference in Windhoek following two videos that have been circulating on social media showing members of the operation kicking, slapping, pushing and manhandling civilians.
"At the onset, I should emphasise that it is against the law and the regulations for law enforcement officers to assault, violate and or manhandle people, even those suspected of committing offences. Irrespective of the circumstances, the use of force by law enforcement officers may only be permissible in circumstances of self defence or to overcome resistance by a suspect during a lawful arrest. Therefore, we strongly condemn the actions of the members, as depicted in the two videos," said Embubulu.
The one video as reported by The Namibian shows a man standing next to a sedan vehicle in Goreangab Dam location in Windhoek, where he is surrounded by a police officer and two soldiers. Holding onto his beer, the 33-year-old man, as identified by the police, is pulled by the police officer and one of the two soldiers.
There seems to be a struggle, as the civilian pulls back only to be slapped on the left cheek by the police officer.
According to Embubulu, this man, who has been encouraged to open a case of assault against the police officer and the soldiers - was allegedly driving recklessly and flashing lights to members of the operation.
"He then spun the sedan he was driving, almost bumping one of the soldiers. Luckily, the soldier ran for safety. After spinning the vehicle, he allegedly lowered the window of the car, revved the engine of the vehicle excessively, showed his middle finger and continued spinning as he drove off," said the deputy inspector general, adding that he went to stop about 100 metres away where he was then approached by the operation's members.
Embubulu said the second video shows six men hurriedly getting into a taxi, as the members of the operation approached, which then raised suspicions.
He said as a result, the patrol car overtook the taxi and planned to block it at the Gateway centre. The taxi driver, however, realised this and made a U-turn on a solid barrier line.
This, he said, caused the patrol members to chase after the taxi until it stopped at a red traffic light, where one of the six occupants got out and ran away.
"The taxi drivers and passengers were taken in for further questioning, where two passengers were confirmed to have been involved in a robbery in the past," said Embubulu.
Embubulu said as much as they do not entertain bad behaviour by law enforcers, they also do not and willnot tolerate unruly civilians.
"We therefore urge the public to cooperate and treat officers with respect. These officers work tirelessly to ensure that the streets are cleared of criminals and that their safety and security are guaranteed at all times," he said.
He assured the public that investigations are underway and any transgressions will be dealt with.