Maybe I was wrong – Ndeitunga
14 January 2022 | Police
Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday said he might have acted ‘ultra vires’ when he issued an internal memo to traffic officers across the country not to issue tickets for expired licence disks on government cars last year.
The move, which only emerged publicly this week, has angered members of the public, who charged that Ndeitunga has diverted from the rule of law to implement an illegal directive.
Ndeitunga, who is still on holiday, yesterday said he could not remember the motive for his directive, but maintains it was for a ‘good’ reason.
“There must be a good reason why I issued that directive, but I cannot recall the reason. When I am back in office, I will check in my files,” he said.
He added: “Maybe I might have acted ultra vires, but I have to confirm that when I get to my files.”
The police chief, who regularly courts controversy, in July 2021 instructed traffic officers in all regions “to not issue tickets on expired government vehicles, but rather allow the vehicles to travel” after his office received numerous complaints about drivers of government vehicles receiving traffic tickets for expired licence discs.
It is reported that drivers of government cars developed cold feet because the regular tickets due to the condition of the vehicles they had to drive, to the extent that a draught relief distribution programme in rural areas did not materialise.
City Police won’t budge
Reacting to Ndeitunga’s directive, Windhoek City Police chief Abraham Kanime has warned that his forces will not ignore expired licences on government vehicles because “no one is above the law”.
“The law is clear and it must apply equally to everyone. I even had to suspend one of the City Police vehicles yesterday [Tuesday] because of a cracked window,” he told Namibian Sun.
Asked if the municipal police will follow in Ndeitunga’s footsteps, Kanime responded: “Where will I get that power to accord such an exemption? The court must give us exemptions.”
“There is a reason why there is a law, otherwise tomorrow I can just wake up and tell my officers not to dish out fines to my friends,” he said further.
While the Namibian police remains in the dark over the number of tickets that have been issued to drivers of government vehicles with expired licences since the start of 2021, government sources said Ndeitunga’s exemption might have easily racked up a revenue shortfall of hundreds of thousands - which should have gone into the coffers of the Roads Authority.
“You must remember that the money collected by the Roads Authority is used for operations and development such as the construction and maintenance of roads. Where does Ndeitunga think this money must come from?” questioned a government official who refused to be named.
Public transport operators, who often accuse traffic law enforcement agencies of deliberately targeting them, were not impressed when they learnt of Ndeitunga’s ‘unilateral decision’.
Secretary-general of the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) Pendapala Nakathingo questioned the decision, asking what the rationale was to exempt vehicles bought with state resources.
“If it could be said, Nabta, we are exempted because of Covid-19 because we didn’t make money, one could understand. If government with its own budget, its own money, is exempted, what was the reasoning? We want to know as Nabta what is the reason behind the decision. It sounds unfair,” he said.