The Maltahohe Police Station is facing constant challenges after its electricity supply was disconnected almost a month ago for non-payment, this is because almost all of the essentials work with power, and there is no backup generator.
The station has been without power after the Maltahohe Village Council disconnected electricity supply to the police due to an outstanding electricity bill that has not been paid since January 2017.
The station uses electricity to power computers, fax and copy machines, lights, refrigerator to store food for inmates.
The source explained to this reporter that police officers used to close the police station at 22h00 in the past and from there on remain on standby. But due to the power woes, the station closes at 17h00.
The latest revelation has painted a bleak picture on police operations and safety of residents at Maltahohe which is said to have been compromised as electricity is crucial in the execution of police tasks. At this point, not only is the Maltahohe police station without electricity, but police barracks which are home to 17 police officers have been without the basic necessity for the last three months as well. In addition, a source who preferred to speak under the veil of anonymity said daily police operations have been negatively impacted, particularly at the police station. “Imagine a police station without electricity, just imagine. Members of the community can no longer call the station directly to report complaints, all they do is call officers on their mobile phones. Most of them don’t know these police officers personally so they don’t have their personal mobile numbers,” the source said.
As a result, the situation has led to community members accusing the police of not being responsive to complaints. The officers have been stranded for nearly three months without electricity – a situation most of them believe will last longer as the plight seem to be falling on deaf ears.
The situation in Maltahohe has seemingly moved from bad to worse as inmates who were held at police holding cells have since been transferred to police holding cells in other places such as Gibeon, Mariental, Stampriet and Aranos. The recent power-cuts come at a time when the Namibian government finds itself in a difficult position to honour all its financial responsibilities.
At present, the police officers use gas cookers to prepare food and charge their mobile phones and other electrical appliances at nearby houses.
The use of other electrical appliances such as fridges, television sets and radios has become something that police officers in Maltahohe only dream off at this stage. In addition, police officers are forced to bath with cold water something that some police officers have termed “unacceptable”. “We (police officers) can’t even iron our uniforms, some officers go to neighbours to beg to iron their uniforms while others go without ironing. This is bad for police officers because our uniforms must be neat at all times, we are respected people in society and the uniform says a lot on that front,” the source added.
Despite the recent disconnection, an amount close N$350.00 is deducted on a monthly basis from police officer salaries as an official accommodation fee to cater specifically for water and electricity needs. The source further added that farmers who rely heavily on the police for the safety of their livestock around Maltahohe have pledged to settle the outstanding debt.“Farmers are aware of the situation and wanted to settle the amount but they could not do so because of some complications at the village council. Their (Maltahohe Village Council) computer crashed and information was lost, so they don’t know how much exactly the police owes them,” the source said. To the contrary, a source within the village council refuted the claim saying farmers simply wanted to know why electricity at the police station had been disconnected.
“The farmers came here to ask why electricity at the police disconnected. We told them that the amount owed by the Ministry of Safety and Security was too high, and we disconnected. They (farmers) never pledged to settle the account as you were informed,” the official dismissed.
Efforts to get hold of acting Chief Executive Officer of Maltahohe Mariana Pieters proved futile as her mobile phone went unanswered. The Maltahohe Village Council could not provide this paper with the figures of the amount owed to them by NamPol which led to the disconnection of electricity at both the police station and barracks.
In March this year, NamPol Deputy Commissioner in the Hardap region Joshua Kuduva said it was not the first time that electricity at the police residence had been disconnected.