Okahandja activist arrested for smashing police car window

22 Dec 2013 14:40pm
By; Mulisa Simiyasa
OKAHANDJA, 22 DEC (NAMPA) – A female community activist from Okahandja was arrested on Saturday, allegedly for smashing the window of a police vehicle with a stone during a heated confrontation with the officers over the controversial land grabbing issue at the town.
According to the Namibia Police Force’s (NamPol) Deputy Inspector-General for Operations, Deputy Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, the police vehicle’s front left passenger window was smashed with a stone by a woman who was identified as Belinda Garoes.
Shikongo told Nampa in an interview on Saturday that Garoes, a well-known community activist in Okahandja, has allegedly been instigating community members to grab municipal land in Okahandja for the purpose of setting up their own residences.
It is estimated that over 2 000 residents of Okahandja, including foreigners from Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who are in Namibia, erected illegal shacks on municipality land at the Five Rand informal settlement and at Oshetu No. 2.
Shikongo said members of the police on Saturday explained to the illegal squatters at Five Rand that there is a court order issued against their stay there.
The illegal squatters agreed and said they want to demolish their shacks and makeshift houses themselves.
“But here at Oshetu No. 2 it was a different case, besides the fact that we explained to them that we have a court order in our possession issued against any person who erected a structure illegally on municipal land,” said Shikongo.
He said the police had been deployed to the sites only to maintain law and order, and shortly after mid-day on Saturday, the Okahandja Municipality’s front loader machine started demolishing the illegal housing structures at Oshetu No. 2.
“Garoes’ zinc office was first to be demolished. It was reported that this angered Garoes, who took a stone and threw it at a police vehicle, smashing the front left passenger window,” said Shikongo.
Garoes was arrested and locked inside a police van which was also carrying some field ration pack carton boxes.
While inside the police van, Garoes apparently found some matches in some of the ration packs and she lit some of the carton boxes.
Police officers quickly rushed to the vehicle to put out the fire and pull the woman out of there.
“Then we hand-cuffed her and took her to the Okahandja Police Station holding cells where she is locked up for now,” Shikongo explained.
He said immediately after Garoes was taken away, the other illegal occupants of municipal land started to co-operate with the police and allowed their illegal dwellings to be demolished.
Otjozondjupa Police Regional Crime Investigations Co-ordinator, Deputy Commissioner Moses Khairabeb said Garoes is to face a charge of malicious damage to property, but Police investigations into that matter will continue.
Meanwhile, Okahandja Town Mayor Valarie Aron told Nampa on Saturday that the municipality will not tolerate any grabbing of its land.
“The Municipality of Okahandja will not entertain anarchy. I would therefore like to put it straight on behalf of the Okahandja Municipality that our local authority is guided by the rule of law,” she said.
She warned participants in the alleged grabbing of town land that they should be prepared to deal with the consequences when they clash with the laws that forbid the illegal practice of land grabbing in the country.
Aron also expressed her disappointment in some former town councillors, whom she refused to name and shame, saying that they are the ones who are instigating the practice of land grabbing in Okahandja.
The mayor said the provision of services to the community remains the first priority for her town council.
(NAMPA)
MS/JK