Should we be concerned and seek means to create a safe public? Definitely! However, there’s an absence of an ideology for public safety beside the kind that exercises only brute force. With the launching of two police operations in just a space of months, we cannot overlook that this is becoming a police state.
At the recent launch of operation Kalahari, Sebastiaan Ndeitunga unabashedly said that this was going to be more intense than Hornkranz, the latter is well known for its brutality against civilians.
So, when Ndeitunga calls for intense operation, and was being applauded by his pawns of policemen/women, what was he refer to? Anything more intense than Hornkranz only refers to total use of force, even concluded by his words that anyone testing their power will see it.
That police think themselves to the point of unleashing wrath on the public and would say it proudly, is quite worrisome. And by all means, we all know that the targets and potential recipients of this initiative aren’t people in Pioneers Park, Hochland Park, Klein Windhoek, Eros etc, it’s residents of Katutura. But that’s not the point, the issue is that the state’s machinery is being proudly employed to inflict violence on the public. This kind of use of power is deeply disturbing. Although these operations claim to be aimed at crime, as the public, we have no trust in the police force that threatens violence or to unleash violence on the public.
The operation has literally been sanctioned to be a force of brutal force, not one that would ensure to uphold law and order. This is state machinery being used to terrorise the public.
As such, we cannot trust that a police force released on such a note seeks to protect the public. We’d perhaps not be wrong to assume that this is a top government directive and Ndeitunga is just being a good soldier, carrying out orders. But are we aware that this is an indication of the decay of our civil liberties, being purported as protection of the public and getting rid of crime.
What crime is so big in this city which the present Namibian Police and City Police aren’t capable to deal with, that they’ll need another operation? When the state’s machinery fails to see itself as a custodian of the citizens rather than as the proprietor, the state itself would become but a large open prison. This has been the trend in many African states, we’ve witnessed that recently in Zimbabwe.
Both military and police crackdowns on the public in search of only they knew that they were looking for. While we’re not in a decadent position as that of Zimbabwe, there are people who are happy to see us evolve into a state of well-rounded chaos.
Some may say but we’ve always had operations of some sort, I argue that it’s a horrible precedence, an opportunity of show of might against the public. Our recent experiences with Hornkranz tell us that there is a huge ideological shortage of orderly and peaceful monitoring of civilians. This ideological poverty, can only lead to a violent policing because operations are seen as a time to ensure violent crackdowns. Evidenced by how police in recent days have gone out to manhandle civilians.
We’re not exaggerating to say that operations of this nature are a declaration of war against the public. Even if we said that it was aimed at crime, the militant approach defeats the idea of the police being law enforcement officers.
We’ve come way too far as a nation, albeit not without challenges. To safeguard this liberty, we’ve obtained can only be, by working towards strengthening our systems of democracy.
But when we employ the military and police to rain down their wrath of frustration on the citizens, we’re not fighting crime anymore, we’ve criminalised the citizens – indiscriminately. If the operations seek to deal with crime then they should patrol all of Windhoek, but in this case only the police, which is mandated to serve in that capacity. In conclusion, civil society has the responsibility to alert citizens of their rights. For many continue to be victims of police brutality and these abuses of power go unreported. Unless there be education on our rights as citizens, police will continue to abuse their roles, when they are out in the streets. The fight against apartheid was for liberty, we cannot allow that these liberties be infringed upon by police militant mentality.
Yet, where the police are within their mandate to promote the good of society, we will support and conform but even where there’s a breaking of the law, the police don’t have the power to play judge.