Between 2014 and 2017, the Directorate of Internal Investigations of the Namibia Police Force (NamPol) recorded 5345 internal criminal cases against members of the force, The Patriot can reveal.
Internal cases(police officer against police officer) involve incidents and possible suspicions of law-breaking and professional misconduct attributed to officers on the force.
The most prominent cases reported to NamPol’s internal investigators include theft; corruption; fraud; assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH); reckless or negligent driving and rape.
These are scathing revelations considering the fact police officers are duty-bound to keep law and order in a given country and not the contrary.
During the period under review, 1269 cases were successfully resolved while 1153 cases are still with the courts.
Meanwhile, 69 cases were unfounded and 2854 cases are still under investigation. In a nutshell, 4007 internal NamPol cases remain unresolved.
The most cases to be reported to the directorate were 1528 in 2016. This is followed by 1367 cases in 2015 and 1231 in 2017.
The least cases to be report during the period under review was in 2014 when the police recorded 1219 cases. Responding to questions this week, Commissioner Christopher Nakanyala who heads Nampol’s Internal Investigations Directorate bemoaned the challenges faced by the directorate in the execution of its mandate.
“The current challenges being faced by the Directorate are those of lack of manpower and financial resources which makes it difficult for investigators to attend investigations out of the capital (Windhoek),” lamented Nakanyala.
Equally, Nakanyala said the directorate’s successes is that it has been able to detect and successfully investigate crimes committed by NamPol members when quizzed.
“The Directorate’s success relies on both police officers and members of the public to report crime and or suspected crimes to the Directorate and continue doing so,” he said.
The Nakanyala-headed directorate is in charge of investigating all matters concerning the disciplinary conduct of NamPol members.
In the last four years, 24 members of the Namibian Police Force were discharged from the force in terms of section 8 of the Police Act, Nakanyala said.
The most pertinent departmental cases include amongst others absenteeism from duty, disobeying lawful order and officers negligently allowing prisoners to escape. Other prominent criminal cases by police officers includes “being under the influence of alcohol (while on duty), failed to report (to duty) at stipulated time, falsely imputes improper demeanour to a superior; conduct him/herself in a disgraceful manner,” he said. In addition, assault cases of senior force members by junior members; officers sleeping on duty and officers going off duty at their own will without being relieved top the list as common internal police cases.
In addition, members of the force are feeling hard done by the lengthy period it takes for internal cases to be finalised and the repercussions thereof.
A police officer who spoke to The Patriot on condition of anonymity expressed dismay at NamPol’s internal disciplinary process.
“In 2014, I was charged for AWOL (absent without leave) and for disrespecting an order from a senior. This was during the time of my supposed promotion. We went for the hearing and I was cleared of all the charges levelled against me. I was being targeted and victimised by my senior. This senior tried but failed to find fault in me after numerous attempts. I missed out on the promotion as I was being investigated then. But since I was cleared, I am yet to be promoted, let alone receive a recommendation letter for promotion,” narrated a NamPol constable who joined the force in 2010. Under normal circumstances, it takes three years from the date of the deployment for a police officer to be promoted from the rank of constable to that of sergeant class 2. A constable is the lowest ranked official within the ranks of NamPol. Another police officer who preferred not to be named due to NamPol laws accused the force of applying its laws selectively.
“For example, I was charged for AWOL, found guilty and paid a fine. But I was not promoted because of that offense. But this law is applied selectively because there is an officer with serious pending offences such as attempted murder and of assault GBH but who was promoted in Mariental, so it’s just astounding how the law works in the force,” said the source.
According to the source, a certain police officer was promoted from the rank of constable to sergeant class 2 in in Mariental despite having pending cases of assault and attempted murder at the time of promotion in 2016.
When approached to confirm or deny the alleged promotion, deputy commissioner Erick Clay who was acting on behalf of Hardap’s regional commander was unaware of “such a promotion”.
“I am currently the acting[regional commander] but no promotion of anyone was communicated to me. I did not even see a document. All the correspondence are coming through me but I have not come across anything like that,” Clay charged.
According to NamPol regulations, once a member is cleared of misconduct, they are ineligible for promotion for at least three years after such a clearance.
The other scenario is, a committee within the force meets and assess the member’s conduct to determine whether or not such a member is fit for promotion, depending on the gravity of their misconduct.