Osire refugees sell relief food

Home Crime and Courts Osire refugees sell relief food

OKONDJATU – The police in Okondjatu seized 30 bags of maize meal meant as relief food, from refugees at Osire camp who were on a truck en route to Otjinene and Okamatapati in the Otjozondjupa Region where the refugees reportedly wanted to go and sell the maize meal.

While covering the just-ended elections, New Era came across 25kg bags of maize meal packed in the charge office at Okondjatu.

Upon investigation, New Era was informed the bags were seized from Osire refugees and were destined to be sold in the Otjinene and Okamatapati areas on September 25.

Although it remains unclear how many of the bags of maize meal were sold investigations revealed that refugees at Osire have been involved in the illicit practice for some time now.

The Otjozondjupa regional police spokesperson, Maureeen Mbeha, confirmed the seizure.

“The police had a mobile roadblock between Okamatapati and Otjinene. They stopped a truck carrying the maize meal. Since the bags are clearly marked ‘NOT FOR SALE’ the police started interrogating the driver and passengers. The driver said he only gave the refugees a hike from Osire and did not know anything about the maize meal. The passengers could not give satisfactory answers where the relief food was going, which prompted the police to seize the bags,” she said.

Mbeha said the passengers admitted they took the bags from Osire refugee camp.

“They denied that they were going to sell the bags. They said they were taking them to their relatives,” she noted.

No arrest was made and the bags were kept in the charge office at Okondjatu.

When asked why no arrest was made, Mbeha said: “Police investigations at Osire show that no bags were missing and as a result they were not stolen, it was their food ration, so no case was opened. We are informed it is also a regular practice at Osire. The police are now planning to find transport to take the maize meal bags back to Osire,” she said.

However, when contacted for comment, an agitated Commissioner of Refugees in Namibia, Nkrumah Mushelenga, threatened to have the culprits arrested, saying it was news to him that refugees were selling relief food.

“It is not allowed and it is criminal. I was not aware and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is also not aware. The food rations are not even enough, it has declined and we have people selling food. Those people need to be arrested. This food costs a lot of international community money, therefore food distribution is carefully calculated to ensure every refugee gets food,” he fumed.

“As a commissioner for refugees, I am going to consult the Inspector General (Sebastian Ndeitunga) and the regional commissioner for Otjozondjupa (Joseph Anghuwo) to ensure proper investigations are carried out and those found to be involved in the sale of relief food should be answerable to the laws of this country,” Mushelenga said.

By Albertina Nakale