Forty illegal immigrants arrested in Windhoek

20 Jul 2015 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 20 JUL (NAMPA) - About 40 illegal immigrants were arrested in Windhoek on Sunday in a joint operation by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, and members of the Women and Men Network against Crime.
Most of those arrested were from Zimbabwe, while about five hail from Angola.
The majority of those arrested had no passports; had expired passports; or had no or invalid work permits.
The joint operation started at around 07h00 with a briefing by NamPol Inspector Christina Fonsech, after which members of the various institutions left to the identified spots.
The targeted areas included churches operating under trees in secluded areas in the mountains behind the Babylon informal settlement, as well as the Goreangab informal settlement and close to the Van Eck Power Station north of the city.
The churches’ settings in areas hidden from the public eye had NamPol questioning their motives.
Agnes Makanza, who identified herself as a 'healer' of the Johan Masoewe Church from Zimbabwe, told Nampa they are doing nothing sinister and only “pray like Jesus in the mountains”. She stated that she is neither a pastor nor a prophetess.
Makanza could, however, not say why her congregation ran into the mountains behind Babylon when the police arrived.
After several minutes, the 'healer' claimed that an unidentified member of NamPol previously harassed them, hence their fear of the police. Asked why they opt for the mountains which hold dangers such as snakes, she said they used to make use of school premises but was denied further use of the facilities by the education authorities.
“The Ministry of Education said they do not want people to pray in the school halls and we must start looking for other places to pray,” Makanza told this news agency, without being able to provide a name of such a school/s or the date when they were told to stop using its hall.
While defending her stance on why they make use of the remote area, the police brought more members, some of them women with babies on their backs, who ran away into the rocky hills to the place of worship.
The self-proclaimed healer even explained to the police, members of the media and Women and Men Network the role she plays in the community and her cleansing materials, among them water from the ocean, which upon tasting by this reporter tasted like tap water.
A pastor was also taken into custody with his congregation. He claimed that the “Holy Spirit” allocated the place of prayers to them in the vicinity of the Van Eck Power Station, north of Windhoek.
The leader, who claims his biblical name is 'Lucknodge', told the police that he went through the legal procedures to get the land from the authorities.
It was later established that his real name - as it appears in his passport - is Chakawamba Mujungu.
He could, however, not provide concrete proof that they were provided authorisation from the City of Windhoek to use the spot; and could only show the police a satellite photo of the site.
It was evident that some of the congregation members slept there, as some bedding and other equipment was still under the trees, while a home-made ablution facility was spotted about 30 metres from where they prayed.
Fonsech, who was spearheading the operations, said her biggest concern is that churches - mostly from foreign countries - that conduct their services away from the public eye, and in most cases deep in the bushes, have something to hide.
“When you start to pray inside caves and in the mountains where nobody can see you, to us (NamPol) this is a problem because we can suspect anything,” she told the group at the police station.
Makanza then reiterated that the spot in the mountains suits them as it is far away from other people.
This news agency observed at the three different churches that it is mostly women who attend the prayer sessions.
The illegal immigrants were detained at various police stations.
No information could be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs on what is going to happen with the detainees.