…Bail system perpetuating crime
Habitual criminals are committing crimes in Namibia, only to be released back out onto the streets.
Police says it is happening far too often, considering there are thousands of criminal cases a year around the country.
The police has often blamed the court system for failing to enact legislation that keeps habitual offenders behind bars.
Arrests of those who terrorize households on the streets of Katutura do not mean much any longer, because the same criminals are out a week later on bail and still on the streets committing the same crimes.
Last week in parliament, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Sylvia Makgone called for the establishment of an electronic system that captures information on crimes committed by criminals. She says this will better inform judges before granting criminals bail.
“We need a system that records crimes committed by these people who are in and out of jail. Next time they commit another crime, the judge will be able to decide whether or not to grand them bail based on the long trail of accessory crimes in their name. It is not right that habitual criminals keep getting bail and commit other crimes while on bail only to be brought back and get out on bail again,” she said.
City Police Public Relations Officer Edmund Khoaseb shared the same sentiments saying the system does not seem to work in favour of the safety of society.
“It is a big problem from our side because we end up chasing the same people every now and then. In Windhoek, we only have one core group of criminals. We know them and we know where they live for that matter. When we hear of a crime, we know the suspects and where to get them. But you arrest this guy today and he is out the following day,” said Khoaseb.
Khoaseb said the trend is a strain to the City Police and mostly frustrating for the officers who have to keep chasing after the culprits. He said the City of Windhoek forks out a lot of resources to keep the city safe but most of these efforts go to dealing with the same people.
“And you should understand this even from a human resource perspective. Our members become frustrated because they are running after the same people. We arrest this guy today and he is out, commits another crime and you have to chase after him again only to be out on bail the next day.”
Residents of Katutura’s Wambo Lokasie say it is the same faces that continue to torture them. The area has been tagged by the City Police as one of the city’s crime hotspots with crimes such as cellphone grabbing, robberies and housebreak-inns being the most frequent.
“We know the criminals now. One is a guy called Shindabi and he is also very known by the police. He grabs people’s phones here and the only time he is not here is when he is in jail. He does not stay long and sometimes he is out on bail just to come and commit the same crimes. So we are really tired because we just don’t understand how criminals that are not first time offenders continue getting bail just to come and commit the same crimes,” said Miryam Shilongo, a concerned parent.
In most cases, these criminals go out on bail go and finish of what they have left unfinished.
Last year, Windhoek High Court handed Outjo resident Sageus Somaeb two life sentences in jail for the brutal killing of his stepson and, while out on bail, the boy’s mother in 2013.
Had he been denied bail, the boy’s mother’s life would have been spared.
Somaeb killed his ex-girlfriend’s son, Remember Gaingob, in May 2013. After being released on bail on the same matter, Somaeb went on to kill the boy’s mother, Charlotte Gaingos.
Somaeb already pleaded guilty at the start of his trial to the killing of Charlotte Gaingos on July 31 the same year, days after he was released on bail on the murder charge relating to the boy.
With the current economic climate, Makgone raised concerns of the hefty finances pumped in the legal representation of habitual thieves saying it could be used for other developmental projects. However, when it comes to legal representation, it is common law that the accused is represented for a fair trial.