Information minister Peya Mushelenga has expressed dismay by the high number of people moving out of and into the Khomas region, saying it defeats the purpose of the movement restrictions between all regions across the country, enforced to curb the further spread of Covid-19.
Mushelenga made the observation when he visited the Okahandja-Otjiwarongo, Windhoek-Gobabis and Okahandja-Karibib roadblocks to assess the adherence and enforcement of the newly instituted Covid-19 regulations.
According to the law enforcement personnel manning the Okahandja-Otjiwarongo roadblock, about 150 people with permits leave the Khomas region daily through this roadblock.
In an interview with New Era yesterday, police deputy chief Joseph Shikongo reiterated the main purpose of lockdowns is to reduce the movement of people.
“But I don’t know what is happening. When I look at the figures at police stations from various regions, you find a police station having over 100 people, seeking permits per day,” he noted.
According to Shikongo, many people are abusing the system, as more than 10 people from one family divide themselves and go to different police stations, seeking permits so they can travel out of Windhoek for funeral purposes.
“People are not honest in
getting travel permits. They come, saying they want to travel for a funeral but then you find more than 10 people from one family seeking permits at different police stations to leave Windhoek,” said
“It is difficult because you don’t know who is honest anymore. If their reasons to travel are not sufficient and are refused permits, then the community complains the police don’t want them to travel. People should be honest and only take trips when absolutely necessary. People don’t want to adhere to the public regulations in place.”
He threatened that if the situation continues unchanged,
the law enforcement will recommend appropriate new travel measures to government that will not allow people to travel unnecessary, as the current situation defeats the purpose of the lockdown.
Shikongo said policymakers should take a firm decision because the public complains to them that the police are mistreating them and do not want to assist them when seeking permits.
“The policymakers call us, asking why we apparently don’t want to assist the community. I received a call from deputy minister of information honourable Emma Theofilus. She was complaining that the police are chasing people away from Stop n Shop. I said ‘deputy minister, can you get in your car and go to Stop n Shop?’,” he said.
“When she got there, she called me and said ‘general, what you are you telling me is true that people are congested and not behaving in accordance with the health protocols’. So, it is really something for Namibians to change their mindset and understand that it’s not a police issue but a national issue for everyone,” Shikongo reacted.
Equally, he raised concern that other people pitch up at the police stations, giving not so urgent reasons to guarantee travel permits unnecessarily.
These, he said, include people claiming to go pay workers on
farms and home villages.
Therefore, he urged all Namibian citizens to be honest and avoid seeking unnecessary travel permits.
Regarding people complains that the police is lenient on those families who break the law of having gatherings of more than 10 people whose loved ones are accorded state funerals, Shikongo said the law should apply to all.
“This is the question we often get from the members of the public. However, whether it’s a State funeral or a normal funeral, the figure authorised at a particular time should be respected. We attended a state funeral for the late retired lieutenant general Lucas Hangula. But I think the director of ceremonies [Frans Kapofi] was very clear that lets us live and adhere to health protocols.”