Although a police uniform serves as a source of pride and respect, which reflects a feeling of patriotism and public order, police impersonation is still rampant in Namibia where crooks illegally use the sacred uniform to commit crimes.
Police impersonation is the act of falsely portraying oneself as a member of the police for deception. It appears to have become easier now for criminals to impersonate a police officer or a soldier, which enables them to commit serious crimes against unsuspecting victims.
Crimes and fake roadblocks perpetrated by individuals wearing military and police uniforms have been hogging the headlines around the country. In fact, the Namibian police this week confirmed the arrest of criminals impersonating police officers.
In most instances, the police said, such uniforms are used by those who are no longer active members of the force. There are also claims the police uniform is being used by family members whose loved ones have since passed on while serving in the force.
In an interview with New Era, newly-appointed Deputy Inspector General Joseph Shikongo confirmed that police impersonation was common. “We cannot refute that police uniforms are used by civilians or by undesirable elements. We have cases of fake police officers going around harassing people by setting up fake roadblocks and soliciting money or threatening to arrest innocent people. Some of these police uniforms they got from their friends who once worked in the police force,” he said.
Shikongo cited a recent case of a criminal who was arrested in the Otjomuise area while impersonating a police officer. According to him, the suspect was arrested while pretending to be working as an officer at Otjomuise police station.
“He pretended to be working under Otjomuise police station. When he was with a permanent employee of the force, he said he was a police reservist who got the uniform from a friend. But after we interrogated him, he could not even explain. This person ended up reporting for duty. He was arrested and charged for impersonating police,” Shikongo elaborated.
Another case he mentioned is that of a former police constable who resigned but failed to hand in his uniforms. Shikongo said they arrested him with police uniforms, handcuffs and other items.
He said it was difficult to keep a record of uniforms as police officers are often transferred from one duty station to another. “If you find a person with a police uniform in a house but it was not used for criminal activities, then it is not really a crime. But it is a crime for former police officers not to hand in their uniforms,” he said.
He encouraged the public to hand over any police uniforms laying around in their homes to the nearest police station, especially those left behind by members who passed on.