Newly appointed deputy inspector general of the police Joseph Shikongo has vowed to fight tooth and nail to root out cross-border vehicle theft, especially in neighbouring Angola.
When Shikongo took over the deputy inspector general’s office in April, he pledged to focus on joint operations, including patrols and investigations with neighbouring countries to curb cross-border crimes.
In April alone, 10 Namibians were arrested in connection with the theft of motor vehicles that were later recovered in Angola.
During that month, Ohangwena regional crime investigations coordinator Zacharia Amakali said 45 vehicles were stolen in the region from January 2019 to April 2021.
Amakali noted that thus far, 26 vehicles were recovered, of which eight were recovered in Angola, while 19 vehicles are yet to be recovered.
The police confirmed vehicles that are stolen are usually taken across the border through ungazetted points of entry. Equally, it has been reported vehicle raiders never use the Oshikango Border Post.
Vehicle theft also happen from Angola into Namibia.
In March, the Namibian police in the Ohangwena region handed over three vehicles, stolen in Angola and recovered in Namibia. The handing over ceremony, which took place in Oshikango, saw a Toyota Prado and two Kia Sportages – worth a combined N$1.5 million – returned to their rightful owners.
In an interview yesterday with New Era, Shikongo said vehicle theft is not as problematic as it used to be in the past.
He identified Ohangwena, Oshana and Omusati as regions where cars are often stolen and smuggled into Angola due to the dilapidated or non-existent border fence.
“When you talk of vehicle theft, we had a serious challenge in all directions. Windhoek was a hotspot and these stolen vehicles were taken to Omaheke region. But it’s better now. It could be that they don’t have a market anymore. They steal cars and use them for criminal activities and dump them or scrap them for parts. They don’t really have a market. But when you go down to Oshana, Omusati and Ohangwena, it is worse. However, the situation is getting better. I am not very concerned,” Shikongo noted.
Shikongo revealed there were two cases reported of vehicle theft in Oshana in May, where one car was recovered in Angola, while the other was an attempted theft in the same region.
“In the process of stealing the car, the owner woke up and the thieves ran away,” he added.
In Ohangwena region, Shikongo said the situation is not so bad as it used to be at some point.
He could, however, not share the car theft statistics of Ohangwena and Omusati regions.
Shikongo highlighted that Khomas region had a serious challenge in this regard.
According to him, the police intend to recover every stolen vehicle in Namibia.
He praised the Angolan police and the communities in both countries for the prompt cooperation with the Namibian police in combating cross-border crimes.
“We have a good relationship with the Angolan counterparts and the community in assisting in [solving] these crimes,” he alluded.
On the safety aspect, Shikongo urged car owners to also secure their vehicles by manning up security features – saying sometimes, it is people’s negligence when their cars are stolen, as they are too exposed to criminals.
Moreover, he said the police are serious in implementing its strategic pillars, which include the protection of life and property, and building partnerships with communities, aiming for organisational excellence.