The inspector-general of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) has reminded Namibians to be patriotic citizens and to put extra effort into performing their civic responsibilities.
While wishing Namibians happy and peaceful 31st independence celebrations set for Sunday, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Haitota Ndeitunga urged everyone to fight crime in their beloved country.
NamPol came into existence following Namibia’s independence from colonial force South Africa in 1990.
The Police Act, 1990 (Act No. 19 of 1990) was enacted and signed into law on 26 November 1990 by Founding President of the Republic of Namibia, Dr Sam Nujoma. Since then, 26 November is commemorated as Namibian Police Force Day.
NamPol started with about 2000 men and women in uniform in 1990. Fast forward to 2021, the force has grown tremendously????FIGURES???, including a civilian component.
So far, four inspectors-general have led the police. They are the late Lieutenant-General (Rtd) Pieter Abraham Fouché, followed by General Jesaya Raonga Andima and Lieutenant-General Lucas Hangula who served until 2005.
Ndeitunga, who has been at the reigns since then, says the force has intensified efforts and has gone extra miles to engage in activities that are beneficial to the societal development of the Namibian people.
“Prior to independence, the community feared and worked against the police,” he noted.
However, after independence and following the establishment of the Namibian Police Force, the force adopted the concept of Community Policing.
“Definitely, the core functions of the police force, particularly crime prevention, investigation of crime, and the protection of life and property remain a huge challenge and therefore will always require concerted police efforts in partnership with the community.”
The Community Policing concept was adopted and implemented to transform the organisational and management culture, structure and mindset of the personnel of the Namibian Police Force. It is primarily aimed at moving away from the traditional way of policing to a modern day, democratic approach that incorporates the proactive participation of all stakeholders. These stakeholders include various forums in the fight against crime, such as Neighbourhood Watches; Men and Women Networks against Crime; Youth against Crime; Business against Crime, and many others.
Ndeitunga is cognizant of the fact that crime continue to occur unabated but said the police and law-abiding citizens as well as security clusters and other stakeholders continue to fight against crime.
He said the crime situation in the country was at its lowest during 1990, as only 51,200 cases were registered countrywide. Thereafter, crime increased steeply from 1990 to 1991. NamPol statistics further indicate that from 1992 to 1993, crime decreased and it was largely brought about by effective policing efforts, combined with a healthy relationship between the police, stakeholders and the community.
From 1994 to 2009, NamPol, together with its stakeholders, managed to contain the crime rate but this rate was later mainly influenced by the development of new technologies, urbanisation, poverty, unemployment and new emerging crimes, such as cybercrimes and money laundering.
From 2010 to 2014, the police recorded a 4% decrease in crime, while an increase of 3% was registered during 2015. Crime has further increased with 5% during 2016, but effective law enforcement and community participation in policing efforts contributed to a 2% decrease in crime during 2017. During 2018, an increase of 6% in crime was recorded, which could be associated with the global economic slump.
In 2019 more cases were reported, which is relatively higher when compared to crimes reported during the same period the previous year.
Before independence the number of police officers were operating from dilapidated buildings or tents as offices and accommodation, especially across the four northern regions. But with the demands for growth and expansion, a number of capital projects have been undertaken and various infrastructure have been erected in many parts of the country, especially in formally neglected areas.
National and regional headquarters as well as the Forensic Science Institute were established, while police stations were renovated and restructured. Specialized units and new police stations were also constructed.
Ndeitunga added that to serve as motivation and encouragement to members to satisfactorily deliver on their mandate, force constructed over 40 police stations and barracks countrywide, and other major projects are ongoing.
“This is also done to bring the police services closer to the communities in the various localities.”
However, law enforcement is hampered by a lack of police holding cells and, in many instances, suspects arrested in a given police station jurisdiction had to be transported to other police stations over long distances.
“Although this challenge still persists, currently most police stations have either expanded or acquired new facilities accommodating trial-awaiting inmates.” To support the maintenance of peace, stability and economic development globally, NamPol started to assist the international community with the deployment of as peacekeepers in the United Nations and African Union Peace Support Operations in 1998. To further enhance the excellent ties of police cooperation existing between our countries, some officers are also deployed as Police Attachés in some of the neighbouring sister countries, namely Angola, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
NamPol is also a member of the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO-INTERPOL) as well as part of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation and has been actively participating in those activities.
“Such deployment allows for unfettered flow of information exchanges between our law enforcement agencies, particularly on transnational and cross-border crimes.” Ndeitunga noted that a Social Services (wellness) Sub-division was also established, and social workers and nurse professionals recruited to render psychosocial interventions to members of the force and their immediate families.
The adoption of the Namibia National Gender Policy allowed for more women representation at decision-making level. In the current structure, there is a female major-general, three female regional commanders, and several women as heads of directorates and divisions. The force also has two women piloting the Police Chopper as well as women in other spheres within the Police Force.
The police chief further said the force made significant strides and evolved tremendously over the last three decades.
“And it continues to make a significant contribution to the realisation of the national goals, as set out in the country’s guiding policies. No amount of effort can be considered to be enough in combating delinquency in society. There is always a need to improve upon the way the police are carrying through their crime prevention and combating duties to ensure that the most vulnerable amidst us are protected.” In addition to capital projects, the police further recognized the need to attain optimal mobility levels in order to enhance response to incidents, improve the effectiveness of crime prevention operations and basically, “to achieve relative pro-activity in our operations by acquiring appropriate transport means”. To that effect an Air wing Directorate was also established to render policing air services to the nation.
Ndeitunga concluded that NamPol has made reasonable progress in ensuring its growth and expansion as an organisation and more especially in carrying out its mandated functions.
“Crime levels in recent years indicates manageable margins and the Namibian Police Force further commits itself, going forward, to fighting crime in the country within the context and framework of our stated activities under the NDP3”.
He said the Namibian Police Force looks forward to more success and accomplishments in many years to come.