Namibia is a free and independent country. The Namibian Constitution is the supreme law of the land. That means no one is above the law.
Unfortunately, there are individual, elected and or appointed officials who think they are more Namibian than others, or are a law unto themselves.
On Saturday, around 12h00, I got wind that there will be a demonstration demanding the delayed 2009 elections verdict, in front of the Supreme Court. My arrival coincided with the Namibian Police trying to re-erect a barricade line around the Supreme Court surroundings, including the bushes. They, however, looked impatient and uncomfortable with the onlookers and tourists who frequent that area of Michael Scott Street. While taking some good photos of the barricaded part I could hear one officer asking the others: “Who is that one?”
Later, a young male officer approached me and inquired, “What is your position here?” Before I could ask for clarity, he followed up with an instruction: “Can you identify yourself?” Understanding the political pressure security officers are facing and mindful of how they are able to make things hard for you when they turn themselves into law, I told the fellow my name and that I am a citizen of Namibia. In return, I requested the officer to identify himself as the law requires. He refused.
Our persistent debate attracted more officers to come over and intervene. While trying to justify their unlawful interrogation and to avoid being seen as acting against their mandate, they resorted to explaining to me that I risked “obstructing police work” and they may “take action” if I continue taking photos without their permission. While they can only be identified by uniform, they were demanding that I have identification on me. One elder officer took out a copy of the Namibian Constitution; he claimed I am violating for taking photos of the police. I then had the difficult task of explaining to the law enforcement officers that they are violating the laws they are supposed to protect and enforce. I explained to them that I don’t need a permission to take photos at public places. When I told them that I have the right to know all their names and I can freely take their photos, they abandoned me and went back to the entrance of the Supreme Court. By that time, the demonstrators had converged.
It is really very important that members of the Namibian Police acquaint themselves with the laws that mandate them and those that guarantee the basic human rights and freedoms, enshrined in the laws of this country. Some of them have become an embarrassment to the force. They abuse laws that empower them and enforce their emotions.
I am saying this considering the scary statistic revealed by the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, Erastus Uutoni, at the Otjiwarongo Police Station recently when he addressed some Otjozondjupa police officers. Deputy Minister Uutoni announced that about 160 members of the Namibian Police have been fired between January and July this year, and 25 others remain suspended for indiscipline. That means 23 Police officers get booted per month. Something must be terribly wrong within the force.