Smugglers run riot along northern border

25 April 2018 | Local News

Police officers stationed along the Angola-Namibia border are finding it difficult to exercise their duties effectively, because of the absence of a border fence on the Namibian side.

During a visit to the northern border town of Oshikango recently, Namibian Sun drove along the no-man's land and observed how the police handled people entering into Angola through non-gazetted points and those smuggling goods into Namibia.

The smuggling of goods, especially fuel, has been made easy by the absence of a Namibian border fence and there is little the police can do.

They try to catch these smugglers by cornering them with police vehicles, however, because of the many holes in the border fence on the Angolan side, the smugglers escape by running through the openings.

The smugglers do this despite there being armed Angolan law-enforcement officials stationed along their border, who are accused of not taking the matter very seriously.

A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said it is high time that the Namibian government erects its own fence, because the current circumstances they are operating in is demoralising.

“How do you expect me run after those young boys just to confiscate those bottles of fuel? Sometimes if you expose yourself to them too much, they retaliate and we do not want to take extreme measures to maintain the law,” the officer said.

“If a fence is to be constructed, our work will be made easier.”

Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa said last year that Namibia used to have its own fence, but due to the liberation struggle, freedom fighters that fled into exile cut the fence so they could enter Angola.

He said further damage had also happened over the years and this is why the fence does not exist anymore.

When contacted for comment, Ohangwena police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Abner Kaume Itumba, said many government stakeholders know about the absence of the fence.

Itumba said it is up to the government to erect a new fence, but this must be well-thought-out.

“We cannot call for a fence like that of Angola because it will not last. People will cut it - that's a fact - unless we put up an electrical one,” Itumba said.

When asked what happens to the confiscated petrol, Itumba said it is stored at police stations and later sent to Eenhana, where government auctions it off as cleaning material and not fuel.

Itumba said because vehicle owners are allowed to buy fuel in containers at service stations, it is difficult for them to make arrests when they come across young men filling the petrol tanks of cars in the streets.

He said the reason why the police confiscate the fuel at the border is because walking around with it is dangerous, as it can explode.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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