The central north borderline between Angola and Namibia is increasingly becoming a dangerous place. The borderline has turned into a hotspot for bloodshed and robberies where a number of Namibians sustained injuries and some even lost their lives. Police officers in both countries are at the centre of these atrocities wherein the majority of victims are Namibians who frequent Angola to buy second-hand clothes and fuel in order to resell them in Namibia, to make ends meet.
Police Inspector General (IG) Joseph Shikongo has raised his concern over the issue, maintaining that he received several complaints about members of the public being assaulted, shot at and losing their belongings after being attacked by police officers alongside the borders.
“It’s true, people are no longer safe at the borders, especially those who go to Angola to buy items for resale,” the police boss said.
Shikongo has however cautioned the public to stick to demarcated crossing points, for safety reasons. He also warned them against fleeing from the police, but to rather talk and find amicable solutions.
A seller who preferred anonymity said many of them opt to use un-demarcated crossing points at the border to avoid exorbitant customs fees.
“At times, you end up paying more than the value of your goods if you are to consider transportation and carriage fees paid in Angola where receipts are not issued in most cases. It is just too much,” the vendor said.
She also said the distance to the border post can be far from a place where they source their stock, compared to closest an unofficial crossing point that is “used by everyone in the area”.
“There are days when you can just cross through those points, while police officers on both sides are watching and they will not do anything to you. Sometimes they ask for bribes,” she said.
The latest incident claimed the life of Hilma Tashiya Amadhila (44) who died at Onandjaba clinic in Omusati region, after a car accident that took place in Angola.
It is alleged that Amadhila’s driver lost control of the vehicle during a chase by the Angolan police at Onambunga village in Angola. The vehicle hit the ditch and overturned, leaving Amadhila with serious injuries. The driver allegedly fled the scene.
According to the police, the vehicle carried 19 plastic containers of petrol and bales of second-hand clothes.
Last month, two men, Shiindi Mesag and Filipus Hamutenya were admitted at Engela hospital after they were allegedly shot by the Namibian Police at Onaminda village in the Ohangwena region.
Mesag claims that he and his cousin, Hamutenya, were visiting a friend at Onaminda near the border when he saw other drivers fleeing the border area.
“We are just seated in the car, not doing anything, but when I saw everyone practically fleeing the scene, I assumed that we might be in danger, so, I also drove towards the direction where everyone else was headed,” he narrated.
Eventually, he saw two police officers and one of them fired two shots. Mesag claims that like everyone else, he did not stop when the police fired the warning shots.
In a few seconds, they found themselves in a hail of bullets, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and hit a nearby tree.
Shiindi has since appeared in court where he was charged for refusing to comply with the officers of law and for being at a zone where private vehicles are not allowed, he added.
Mesag was shot and injured with a live bullet in the leg and his cousin in the back. His car was written off –not from the impact of hitting the tree, but over bullet holes all over the body of the vehicle.
Two years ago, taxi driver Lebbeus Wambalili was shot and his passenger critically injured after they were shot at by the Namibian Police –again at Onaminda.
Not so long ago, 39-year-old Teteipo Lucas sustained serious head injuries after he was assaulted and robbed of his money and other belongings, allegedly by police officers. Lucas opened the case of assault and robbery against the officers.
Shikongo has since urged the public to report police officers involved in criminal activities to the regional police commanders.