Oshakati, 24 July – Despite commendable efforts in maintaining law and order, the Omusati Region continues to grapple with concerning levels of crime. Governor Erginus Endjala expressed his apprehension during the state of the region address on Friday, emphasizing the need for collaboration between residents and law enforcement to combat the rising assault offenses and domestic violence.
While the overall crime rate remains under control, there has been an alarming surge in theft-related cases, with home invasions and stealing ranking at the top. Notably, incidents of stock theft have increased, especially in the Uukolonkadhi District, where stolen animals are being smuggled into the Republic of Angola. Additionally, illegal immigration and contraband smuggling along the Namibia-Angola borders have seen a rise, prompting intensified efforts from the police to curb these illicit activities. Overall, the number of reported criminal incidents has increased from 4,079 to 4,529.
A significant area of concern is the rise in domestic violence-related assaults, with 257 incidents reported. Tragically, out of 112 reported rape cases, a majority of the victims were children. The police have identified 653 thefts, 513 housebreaking and theft cases, 477 gender-based violence-related assaults, 447 other assault cases (including common assault and assault by threat), 257 domestic violence incidents, 232 stock theft cases, 226 fraud cases, 129 cell phone thefts, and 111 robbery cases. To combat these crimes effectively, the Namibian Police Force plans to enhance visibility through increased foot and vehicle patrols and improved crime detection methods.
Disturbingly, there have been 118 unnatural deaths reported, including shootings, hangings, overdoses, drownings, suffocations, and other tragic incidents. Of these, 81 were suicide cases, 18 were suffocations, and 16 were drownings. Tragically, 13 of the drowning victims were toddlers who perished due to lack of parental care, often left unattended while their guardians visited shebeens. Additionally, 16 infants were found to have died from suffocation, allegedly due to negligence from their intoxicated mothers. The Namibian Police Force has vowed to take strong action against these careless parents and guardians, pressing criminal charges and bringing them to court for prosecution.
Another pressing concern is the overcrowding in police holding cells, exacerbated by the delays in criminal cases being heard in court. Out of the sixteen police stations in the region, only seven have detention centers. The Outapi Police Station, in particular, lacks the capacity to accommodate convicts due to extensive repairs needed in its holding cells. Presently, the police cells in Outapi, Okahao, Ruacana, Tsandi, Onandjaba, Etayi, Oshifo, and Oshikuku, designed to hold 309 inmates, are overcrowded with 609 inmates, as reported by Endjala.
Addressing these challenges demands concerted efforts from law enforcement, the community, and government bodies. By prioritizing crime prevention and providing adequate resources to handle criminal cases swiftly, it is hoped that the Omusati Region can take significant steps towards a safer and more secure future.