WINDHOEK – An alarmed President Hage Geingob yesterday met with the top brass of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Safety and Security, Namibian Police and Namibia Defence Force, to seek clarity on the much-publicised allegations of brutalities by soldiers against civilians last weekend.
Images of bloodied faces of civilians – including women – emerged over the weekend, with allegations that soldiers involved in Operation Hornkranz were responsible for the assaults.
Both Geingob and the Ministry of Defence yesterday issued statements condemning the attacks.
The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) too issued a statement yesterday, saying the military must preserve social order instead of violating it.
State House confirmed that yesterday’s meeting has resolved to institute investigations into the allegations.
“[The] presidency can confirm that the respective Ministries together with the NAMPOL and NDF, will conduct a thorough investigation into these reports and where it is found that soldiers reacted outside of the rules, such perpetrators will face the appropriate disciplinary procedures,” its statement said.
The presidency also urged concerned citizens to press charges should they face violence at the hands of the army or police.
President Geingob initiated Operation Hornkranz towards the end of last year to combat crime during the festive season. Weeks into its launch, the operation drew wide condemnation from many areas where the army in particular has been accused of beating up people.
State House yesterday said this was not the aim for which the operation was created.
“The purpose of these joint operations is to tackle crime and not to turn Namibia into a police state. The presidency therefore urges that all stakeholders adhere to strict codes in carrying out operations against crime around the country.”
The operation was legally constituted and well intended, the presidency said.
“It should also be noted that under the Constitution, joint crime frightening operations between the Namibian Police and the Namibian Defence Forces have been a regular occurrence and did not begin when the President launched the anti-crime operation last year.”
“With this in mind, any reports of Namibian citizens facing brutality at the hands of our uniformed personnel is highly worrisome and warrants immediate investigation, as it represents a haunting reminder of the dark … history of our country.”
“Although we are all aware that the scourges of crime and violence are a threat to the peace and stability of our society, and therefore need to be tackled, this should be done with strict adherence to maintaining the rights and freedoms of the citizens.”
Defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Petrus Shilumbu, in the media statement issued yesterday said the ministry was shocked by the alleged actions of its soldiers.
“The MoD [Ministry of Defence] did not order soldiers to assault members of the public and this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated,” said Shilumbu.
In this regard, Shilumbu indicated that the ministry will investigate the case and those found guilty will be dealt with according to the Military Discipline Code.
2019-04-30 09:03:12 | 9 months ago