Stock thieves and poachers terrorising farmers

Join the fight

11 May 2021 | Crime

Karibib


Farmers and traditional leaders from areas in the Erongo region put forward various concerns during a meeting with the Nampol deputy inspector general for operations, Major-General Joseph Shikongo in Karibib recently.

Similar meetings were conducted in the Khomas and Hardap regions.

Shikongo gathered the farmers to discuss incidence of stock theft and poaching.

Strategies to curb its prevalence were also discussed with regional high-ranking officials in attendance at the occasion.

Requests

The farmers compared the prevalence of stock theft to a pandemic and requested that the special field force be deployed, adequate resources (vehicles and manpower) be availed, police patrols be increased and that regular roadblocks be conducted at strategic places in the Erongo region to combat poaching.

Colluding

The farmers were also adamant that police officers are colluding with crooks and exacerbating what they labelled a pandemic which is causing devastation amongst livestock farmers within the region.

“Thieves appear to be controlling police officers who are not doing their job. They disregard evidence, don’t do follow-ups. Cases are being dismissed, complaints disappear without being attended to and instead, the names of those who provide information are passed on to the thieves. Culprits are also tipped off and this has led to hopelessness and created trust issues.”

Shikongo advised the farmers to follow appropriate structures when registering cases or launching inquiries.

Fear factor

According to the farmers they live in fear.”

“We are dealing with organised criminal gangs. Our lives are in danger because the thieves are armed. They go to court, are granted bail and then continue with illegal activities. Some have many cases against them and are allowed to go free.”

Hotspots

The farmers identified Okahandja as a hotspot for stock thieves and pointed out that the D2110 road which links Omaruru and Otjiwarongo is being used by stock theft syndicates to transport stolen cattle and poached meat.

The road which links Uis, Khorixas and Spitzkoppe is apparently used to supply stolen meat to coastal towns.

“Unroadworthy cars are running non-stop throughout the night transporting poached meat and stolen animals. Fake permits are being issued to transport meat. The thieves are now also targeting solar panels.”

Resources

The farmers also informed the delegation that crime scenes are not attended to due to a shortage of vehicles or a lack of drivers.

“Response times are very slow and in many cases the police simply do not show up. People have been caught red-handed and then escape due to delays. Vehicles and logistical support lacks and is impacting service delivery to such an extent that it is none existent.”

Response

Shikongo admitted that budget allocations are not enough and pledged to continue trying to secure more funds as well as improve service delivery.

“Security is a national issue. I can assure you that resources will be allocated to areas where a need exists. We have already managed to improve police visibility since last year. This is not a talk show. We are committed to do what must be done with the support of the regional police commanders.”

He also urged for increase cooperation between the public and the police and thanked community members who are using their own resources and time to combat crime.

“Working together is key in addressing issues. Reservists and neighbourhood watch groups are making a significant contribution towards crime fighting efforts. More community members need to join law enforcement efforts.”

Join law enforcement efforts

Shikongo urged farmers to convince their sons and daughters to become police reservists and to join neighbour watch groups.
He said that there are an estimated 300 police reservists in the country with the most of them (70%) mobilised in the Khomas region.

Reservists are required to do 16 hours active duty per month.

Erongo police commander commissioner Andreas Nelumbu emphasised that a lack of resources is not a reason for the none execution of duties by police officers.

“Cases can be opened anywhere. There is no excuse for police offers to be sleeping while criminals are terrorising communities.”

Shikongo encouraged the public to report ineffective police officers and those not willing to render services.

“Unfit individuals should be removed from the force. Twenty-two police officers were discharged due to corruption and incompetence in the Khomas region between January and March. We want competent officers.”


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