RUNDU - Water affairs minister Calle Schlettwein is concerned over the ongoing theft of water pumps at State boreholes meant to serve needy communities in Namibia’s rural areas. “The theft of pumps and destruction of communal boreholes is worsening and continuing unabated,’’ he said in a Facebook post.
Schlettwein further indicated that the theft of pumps is not only happening in Kavango East and West but has now spread to //Kharas, Zambezi, Ohangwena and Oshana regions.
“It appears to be a well organised criminal activity. The damage is huge, running into millions and the consequent hardship is with the communities who are left without water, it is so sad that when we could help some communities, criminals are undoing it,’’ he said.
Displaying his dismay on 13 October, Calle also tweeted that, “Damage of criminal activities to ordinary people is severe! Of recent, 13 water pumps were stolen from village water points, stock theft is rife in communal and commercial farming areas and infrastructure on resettlement farms is destroyed or stolen. Law enforcement must improve!” he said
Meanwhile, in Kavango West, the law enforcement are working on apprehending water pump thieves and have arrested two suspects who have subsequently also been sentenced by the court for two years imprisonment.
“There are a lot of pumps that were stolen so far. I think maybe 17 or 18 and we only recovered one and arrested two individuals in September and they were already sentenced and are serving a two-year term,” said Deputy Commissioner Abner Agas, the new regional crime investigation coordinator for Kavango West.
Agas also indicated that the people who are responsible for the theft of water pumps are those who know how to install it.
“These are people who work for contractors who are drilling boreholes, when they install these pumps, they compromise on safety because the safety of the pumps is questionable, they install it in a way that they will come back and remove it easily,” Agas said.
Agas told New Era that there are also certain community members who are dealing in water pump thievery, saying some have acquired the skill to remove the pumps from working with contractors at some point. “Some worked with borehole contractors in the past and now they know their way around it, the targeted market are farmers and retired civil servants and we have been giving out a warning in the past that people should not buy these stolen equipment because if they don’t buy them, then there wont be any market for them,” he noted.
The officer noted these thieves are mostly targeting government boreholes that are serving communities and their livestock. “They cut them off from the water source, and water is life. We are working with our communities and they are giving us information and we also urged them to safeguard their pumps that serve them and some have already organised themselves and have roped in youths who don’t go to school to guard these facilities in shifts at night, more like a neighbourhood watch and it’s working,” he said.
Those who will be found in possession of stolen pumps will be arrested. “We all know that you cannot buy stolen things. We will ensure that they are arrested and prosecuted,” said Agas.
Caption: (pump) Vanished… This borehole pump was stolen on 30 October at Koro village in Kavango West.