More than 70 people were arrested around the country during the past weekend as part of a clampdown on citizens flouting Covid-19 lockdown regulations. The lockdown, which was initially only imposed in Khomas and Erongo regions, was extended last week countrywide until 4 May.
Among those arrested were 14 people who defied regulations relating to public gathering, while four were arrested for illegally travelling without valid permits. According to the police, 40 people were arrested for illegally selling alcohol, while six were detained for operating businesses not deemed as essential services. The police also arrested 15 people for other violations.
Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga on Monday said their law enforcement operations were hampered by floodwater, especially in the northern areas. In the Zambezi region, police are using boats to access some of the remote areas cut off by floodwater.
He said thick bushes and fallen trees were making it difficult for law enforcement officers to patrol. In addition, Ndeitunga said long distances between border posts and checkpoints, combined with the sandy terrain in regions such as Ohangwena and Omusati, was also a contributing factor.
“This has also facilitated the illegal crossing of some unscrupulous elements to sneak through the border between Namibia and Angola,” he said.
Ndeitunga said challenges experience during the lockdown include a large number of people moving from one zone to another, especially at the Okahandja-Otjiwarongo checkpoint, which overwhelmed officers and medical staff screening travellers.
He said some people who had hitchhiked from various places were removed from vehicles at the checkpoint, which caused congestion at the screening point. According to Ndeitunga, some of the travelling permits used by travellers were fictitious.
“Publication of the new amendment regulations to allow for sale of alcohol beverages containing less than 3% by volume of alcohol turned to be a problem as this created an opportunity for prohibited beverages to be sold as well,” stated Ndeitunga.
He also said the trading of essential goods, such as food, created a loophole for those who exploited the opportunity to indulge in illicit activities.
He said some community members are not adhering to lockdown regulations, as they are loitering in the streets pretending they are going for shopping or exercising while not adhering to social distancing.
Ndeitunga assured the Namibian people that all borders remain closed and the police will only assist those who are allowed to travel, provided they have factual and accurate information.