17 Mar 2014 17:10pm
OKANGWATI, 17 MAR (NAMPA) Chief Hikuminue Kapika of the Kapika Royal House in the Epupa area is under heavy police protection after he received death threats following allegations that he had allowed work on the Baynes Hydropower project to go ahead.
Kapika, who controversially refused to allow the government to proceed with the hydroelectric project years ago, has a detail of eight heavily armed police officers guarding his person and homestead the highest number of police officers ever assigned to a traditional leader in independent Namibia.
The police protection was granted to him upon a request which the chief himself apparently made to the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) after the alleged death threats were made against him.
Nampa travelled to Kapikas homestead at Omurama village about 20 kilometers south of Epupa falls last week, and took note of the security detail surrounding the controversial chief.
Such police protection would usually be given to very important persons (VIPs) like ambassadors, ministers and deputy ministers facing death threats and even in such cases, the police officers would be limited to a maximum of three of so.
NamPol Regional Commander in the Kunene Region, Mandume Shifonono confirmed to Nampa on Friday that Chief Kapika had requested for the protection, and it was granted to him after it became evident that there were indeed groups of people who were threatening to take his life.
We could not ignore his request and the fact that he claimed to be threatened with death. We acted promptly to give him the protection he needed. It was in line with our work as police officers to ensure that Chief Kapika felt safe and protected rather than to ignore him or take his allegation lightly and be blamed if something happened to him, said Shifonono.
During Nampas visit to Kapikas homestead, some of the police officers prevented this reporter from entering the place without Chief Kapikas consultation and expressed consent.
After the chief finally agreed to talk to the news agency, the reporter was subjected to a full body search for any weapons.
During the interview however, Kapika denied having made any request for police protection.
I cannot say I dont have enemies as I do not know all the people that I have upset in my lifetime as a man. So the possibilities of having enemies cannot be ruled out, said Kapika.
He added that he could not recall any death threats made to his family or to himself personally in the past to trigger this level of protection offered by the Namibian Police Force.
The allegation surrounding Chief Kapikas protection is that there are a group of people from amongst his own subjects who are accusing him of signing documents to allow the government to go ahead with the construction of the Baynes Hydropower Station.
Another allegation making the rounds is that there are people from within his leadership who apparently want to overthrow Kapika and unseat him from his crown as chief.
Gabriel Kapika, the Chairperson of Kapika Royal House, also confirmed to Nampa that he has heard rumours that some death threats were indeed made against the chief.
Police here said the protection accorded to the chief will be available until such a time that it is ascertained that there is no potential threat of death for Chief Kapika.
The police officers have been with Kapika for about a week now.
The Baynes Hydro Power project, which was planned to cost at least N.dollars 12 billion, is meant to an option through which the Namibian Government wants to ensure energy security for the country.
The Baynes Hydro Power plant is situated along the Kunene River.
Namibia is a net importer of electricity, receiving more than 60 per cent of its energy requirements from neighbouring countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).