Men And Machine Unite Against Crime In Operation Omake

16 Nov 2015 10:50am
By Francois Lottering

WINDHOEK, 16 NOV (NAMPA) - The sounds and sights of heavy earthmoving equipment de-bushing the city's river beds must be a relief for many women and children, as these often dark spots have for years only been a source of nightmare for them.
These riverbeds have on many occasion been the scenes of brutal crimes, mostly committed against women and children.
Although the idea of cleaning riverbeds comes a long way, such initiatives were often short lived.
Once a person is raped or killed in a riverbed, many Namibians jump on the bandwagon and show sympathy to those affected, but no permanent solution has ben forthcoming to make these places crime-free.
In most cases, the victims are totally forgotten, except by the bereaved family who still have to live for many years with their relative’s death at the hands of a criminal.
The murder of two sisters during October, 18-year-old Jacqueline Kauseua, a learner of Augustineum Secondary School, and her 30-year-old sister, Cecilia October, could be the turning point for law enforcement agencies in the safeguarding of women and children.
The visit to the site of the Presidential couple, President Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos to the crime scene shortly after the crime was committed, has the potential to ensure the safety of the nation, as the President ordered that the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and all role players in the safety sector must do something about the overgrown riverbeds in the city that have become the breeding grounds for criminals.
This marked the birth of ‘Operation Omake’, that was launched in early November by NamPol Inspector General, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga.
During the launch, Ndeitunga called on all forces such as Windhoek City Police, Women and Men Network against Crime, Neighbourhood Watch groups and the public at large to get involved in fighting crime.
On Tuesday last week, the commander alongside all his various managers, station commanders and operational officers paid visits to the various de-bushing sites around Windhoek to familiarise themselves about the progress on riverbed clearing, as well as to see how the police officers on the ground and in the field are conducting the operation.
The first stop was close to the Katutura Magistrate’s court where Ndeitunga met with members of the Namibian Defence Force clearing the riverbeds with large construction equipment. The Army provided various heavy ground moving equipment and manpower to make sure no rivers are vegetated and serve as hiding places for thugs.
Delegates then proceeded to many sites around Windhoek, particularly where riverbeds run through residential areas.
Another concern for the police chief is the amount of unlicensed firearms and other dangerous weapons in circulation.
“It is disheartening that during Operation Omake we seized lots of equipment, particularly firearms during our stop and search operations.”
On the amount of weapons confiscated since the operation kicked off early this month, Ndeitunga said they are many, and range from firearms, machetes (pangas), knives, sharp objects and even knob-kieries.
“We do not know why citizens like to be armed everyday and why to recreational places they are armed, to shops they are armed, why can we not disarm this society?”
He called on all to assist and ensure that all unlicensed weapons are taken off the streets, as in many cases where violent crimes occurred, an illegal or unlicensed weapon was used.
The next stop during his visit to the areas where criminals presumably operate was an open space between the Western Bypass and the Khomasdal Business Centre, where around 50 inmates from the Windhoek Central Prison with around 25 wardens were found debushing the area.
The group, all volunteers, were cutting down trees and other vegetation to ensure no hiding places for criminals are left behind. The high spirit among the inmates clearing the area welcomed the high profile police contingent with open arms, as one of the men regreted his wrong doings 15 years ago that led him to be arrested, convicted and sentenced for his crimes.
“After our integration into society after our rehabilitation we would be back in society and we take remorse for the crimes we committed, and we are sorry for the crimes against our families and communities,” said inmate Mcdonald Mandume Kambonde during a personal meeting with Ndeitunga and his senior staff officers.
Ndeitunga thereafter encouraged the group by saying that once they are released from prison, they will be integrated back into society as responsible citizens and will help build Namibia and defend the country against criminals.
Operation Omake will continue as long as it takes to limit criminal activities.
Omake means 'putting hands together and this is exactly what the police chief wants from all law enforcement agencies and communities to make Namibia safer for all.
A recent night patrol with NamPol to get first hand experience of what happens in the capital city when the sun sets, brought the appreciation of police officers to the surface.
Apart from being police officers, members of NamPol are doing more than policing, as they often are called to homes and have to solve domestic problems that in some cases lead to domestic violence, Officers also have to deal with people under the influence, being insulted, attend to accidents, and treat and assist those injured during incidents like brawls and accidents while awaiting emergency services to arrive.
Despite the public’s complaints of police officers having no respect for human rights and use force when unnecessary while apparently pushing for a bribe, spending one inght with police officers makes one realize the value of the officers while the rest of the country is asleep. In many cases, officers are verbally abused and insulted by those who are against the law and order, but it is their job to tolerable the brash behaviour of irresponsible citizens and enforce the law to ensure safety for all.