Police Inspector General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, has revealed that the police are feeding an average of 3,500 suspects per week in their holding cells across the country, resulting in a massive strain on law enforcement resources, which have already been cut to the bone.
The police chief, who also serves as Interpol’s Vice President for Africa, told the Windhoek Observer this week that the recent Government spending cuts were hitting Namibian police operations hard.
“I am feeding 3,500 inmates, every week. My hands are full. Vehicles are experiencing wear and tear every day, and mileages are high… And then there is the fuel and maintenance of police vehicles.
“The police are mobile, when it comes to investigations, courts and crime preventions. As we speak, I have about 300 people in Etosha and Bwabwata (national parks), who are claiming S&Ts. And I have cases at the High Court, both in Windhoek and in Oshakati. People come and attend court cases here or in Oshakati as witnesses and investigators come all the way from Opuwo, Kavango, Oshikoto and Zambezi. Some court cases or trials take an entire week, so what do I give these people? It is a problem,” Ndeitunga said.
In October this year, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein presented his mid-term budget review in parliament, where he said the Namibian economy has never before been in such a precarious situation.
Thousands of youth, who had expected to be recruited into the military and police this year were also affected by a Government recruitment freeze.
Ndeitunga said manpower is now becoming a massive challenge, as officers are leaving, retiring or dying.
“I also have a challenge of manpower, I can no longer recruit police officers, because of the budget, and I have a big turnover of people dying, people retiring, people resigning, people being discharged, and they need to be replaced.
“And I need to train officers to capacitate them. Some are to be trained at the borders… and that means I need to have a budget somewhere; as soon as people start interfering with that, then we have a serious problem.
“Government should properly house our police offices and give them enough benefits. I have a problem with the budget. We have had a good plan and good projects, but they have not taken off because of money. This has definitely affected most of the Namibian police operations,” Ndeitunga said.
He said that although he understands the country’s economic challenges, he hopes that voicing out the police’s challenges will make a difference in what they are going through.
“With all this, that does not mean that I do not understand the challenges and difficulties that our country is going through, but I will continue to cry about these things. In Spanish they say, ‘A child that does not cry will never be fed by the mother’. If one is quiet, no one will know you have a problem, so I am talking about my problems,” Ndeitunga added.