The City Police chief has been suspended, but that won’t solve Windhoek’s problem with politics and policing, because it appears that enforcing the law plays second fiddle to sidling up to the political powers that be.
Councillors are against shack demolitions and the disconnection of electrical accounts in arrears of poor, although this is part of the reason that has resulted in the City of Windhoek making losses running into hundreds of millions in recent years.
By all accounts, Abraham Kanime did what he was hired to do – police the growing, diverse and crime-ridden Windhoek.
It wasn’t enough it seems. Kanime was suspended this week in what many describe as a politically motivated firing.
Kanime had guns pointed at him from all angles in the City, from the street vendors whom he chased from the streets, informal settlement residents whose shacks he demolished, subordinates who cried over Kanime’s way of running City Police affairs, and most importantly, the Swapo dominated City Council which could lose votes in 2020 during Regional and Local Authority elections because of the shack demolitions meted out against the poor by Kanime’s brutal forces.
His decision to take Council to court last year is seen by many as the final nail in Kanime’s coffin.
Kanime’s employment contract is set to end next year, observers thus feel Kanime will not regain the City Police’s instruments of power. But without Kanime, safety groups in the City claim it seems like the Council wants to install a weak chief who will be led around by the majority political faction in the Council who prioritises pleasing the electorates more than law enforcement.
Kanime and his critics agreed the town had a housing problem, but Kanime denied turning a blind eye to it when demolishing illegal shacks. Instead, he contended his department lacked the manpower and financial resources to adequately tackle land grabbers – a problem that would seem to stem from inadequate funding provided for land servicing.
Whether Kanime’s ouster was justified is a matter of interpretation.
Certainly, it had political overtones, although there also appeared to be some substance to the criticism of his attitude in office, especially his refusal to report to his direct boss-the CEO- and his decision to drag his employer to court. Kahimise this week said Kanime’s suspension was not personal.
Kanime filed his complaints last year October in the High Court. Kanime has accused the CEO and council of the City for delaying him from performing his duties. He also claimed in the affidavit that he was being ‘ignored’ and ‘threatened’.
Kanime is believed to run the affairs within the City Police as his own and is he is refusing to report to Robert Kahimise.
The department of City Police falls under the jurisdiction of the city Chief Executive Officer but due to power struggles, Kanime is not willing to comply. According to him the problems came to light during the clash City Police had with 7de Laan residents that erected shacks.
In an affidavit filed in the High Court, Kanime requested for the non-intrusion of the CEO and city council from his duties.
“I was further given orders to stop implementing by-laws, and action which I considered at the time of being subversive of the rule of law,” he said.
He maintained that he submitted a memorandum to the mayor over the “unlawful interference” in the police’s work but received no response.
“From January 2015 to April 2016, the unlawful interference in [my] responsibilities and duties by the [CEO] – an overt action on his part to frustrate [my] work – went on unabated.”
Kanime’s suspension letter
Kahimise banned chief Abraham Kanime from entering the City Police headquarters, further indicating that the embattled police chief will not be entitled to basic wages during the suspension period.
“As per Regulation 9(5) of Windhoek Municipal Police Service Regulations, please note that during the suspension period you are not entitled to basic wages unless otherwise directed by Council.
Hence, you are requested to provide my office with motivation for the basic wages not later than 1 April 2018 for Council’s consideration on 4 April 2018,” Kahimise told Kanime in the suspension letter.
These are some of the conditions stated in Kanime’s suspension letter.
He must also not contact or communicate with City of Windhoek employees or his subordinates at the municipal police regarding his suspension.
Another condition is that Kanime must inform Kahimise when he wants to travel out of Windhoek during office hours.
“Please be advised that you should be readily available within the normal working hours to report for duty when required to do so,” said Kahimise in the two-page suspension letter issued to Kanime on Monday afternoon.
Kanime did not only clash with his employers, since the formation of the City Police, he also clashes with national police chief, Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga.
The two seem to have smoked the peace pipe after it emerged that Ndeitunga was instrumental in Kanime’s decision to withdraw his case against his employer.
Nampol has in the past accused City Police of usurping its powers in Windhoek.
The City Police force was established to compliment the Namibian Police in areas such as crime prevention, law enforcement, traffic policing and enforcement of by-laws in the City of Windhoek jurisdiction.
There were also claims from City Police officers that the national police is refusing to accept City Police recruits at their training facility and that Nampol is unhappy with the manner in which the City Police poached skilled police officers from the national police.
Both Kanime and Ndeitunga vehemently denied the rift, although it was clear for all to see.
During the formative years of City Police, the two police entities used to share resources such as transport whereby Nampol force members would patrol the city streets in one vehicle with City Police members, that collaborative effort has since stopped.