Residents in Omusati, Oshana and Ohangwena suffered damages and water losses after criminals stole 81 water meters in rural areas since the end of last year.
The stolen meters are those used to measure the water consumption of rural communities and individuals who are supplied with water from NamWater’s main pipeline.
According to Omusati police spokesperson Anna Kunga, they received 30 reports, but only three people registered cases.
“All 27 people refused to register police cases since they believe that if the police take over, they will lose. They said they will go register with the traditional authorities for these thieves to pay their meters,” she explained.
She noted the thieves targeted the meters to sell them, possibly to scrapyards because of their high copper content.
“Most of the suspects are schoolgoing boys, while some are young men from Oshakati,” she said.
Kunga indicated that each meter is estimated to cost about N$1 400 when brand new, but they are sold for less than N$150.
Kunga said the theft of the meters, valued at N$42 000, took place from last November to this month.
Ohangwena acting regional crime investigation coordinator Aludilu Victor told New Era that 30 water meters were stolen, with two cases registered, at Endola village this year.
“It is not the first time that Ohangwena has experienced the theft of water meters; it is just that I don’t have the figure of previous years,” he said.
He added that the culprits removed the meters unprofessionally, as water was wasted in the process.
“Affected communities are usually without water until they replace their stolen meters, which is costly for them,” he noted.
He further advised people to refrain from stealing water meters.
“They all sell these meters to Oshakati Scrap Yard,” he said.
End of last year, two men were arrested after they were found in possession of stolen water meters in the Oshana region.
The duo was arrested after a taxi driver, who picked them up from the Oshoopala location at the bridge near the Oshakati Premier Electric premises, drove straight to the police station.
Community affairs officer Thomas Aiyambo said the taxi driver drove to Oshakati Police Station with the two suspects and reported the incident to the police.
This follows after they were seen loading two bags containing more than 20 water meters.
“Upon interviewing the suspects, they couldn’t provide proof of the ownership, which indicates clearly that the suspects stole the water meters,” he said.
Oshikoto police deputy commissioner Petrus Shigwedha said for the past two years, they have not received any stolen water meter report.