Ya Ndakolo regrets shooting incidents, blames civilians

By Eliaser Ndeyanale


DEFENCE MINISTER Penda ya Ndakolo has said he regrets the shooting incidents by members of the Namibian Defence Force that has led to the deaths of two people already, saying the shootings created a wrong perception in the minds of the general public about the intended purpose of the controversial Operation Kalahari Desert and blamed “rotten eggs” for provoking the armed forces.

In a lengthy statement released this week, ya Ndakolo alleged the shooting incidents that claimed two lives in recent months were being used by some media outlets and politicians to mislead and inflate feelings of public anger against what was said to be a joint police and military “crime-fighting initiative”.

“The MoD has no deliberate policy of killing innocent civilians, but the behaviour of some rotten eggs is contributing to these incidents,” the minister said in his belligerent statement.

He added that in all the recorded cases involving NDF members, the victims were either trying to evade the police or run away from the uniformed personnel on patrol. “This is very unfortunate. Therefore, I appeal to the members of the public to cooperate with and obey the instructions of members on patrol to avoid similar incidents in the future.”

The minister further insisted that there were no deliberate orders, either from the President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the NDF, the minister himself or the chief of the NDF to kill innocent civilians. “But the situation on the ground, including the uncooperative attitude of some people, unfortunately resulted in shooting incidents in which lives were unfortunately lost,” he said.

Ya Ndakolo warned that he would not tolerate any kind of behaviour and actions that endanger the lives of soldiers. “Anyone who might harbour any ill intentions towards NDF members who are simply performing their official duties to protect our people and their properties from crime will be dealt with accordingly.

He further claimed that the recording of video evidence was possibly motivated by “potential or actual revenge”, saying “Things like abusive language, threats and potential or actual revenge actions towards NDF members (as we suspect was the intention of taking a video in the last incident) will not be tolerated and will be responded to swiftly and adequately.”

In June, a Zimbabwean taxi driver, 22-year-old Talent Fambaune, was killed near a roadblock outside Windhoek during an ‘Operation Kalahari Desert’ patrol when he tried to make a U-turn to avoid the checkpoint, presumably out of fear of arrest as he apparently did not have all the required papers.

He died from a shot to the head, allegedly inflicted by NDF soldier Gerson Nakale, who was subsequently arrested, charged with murder, and denied bail.

In August, Herman Shiimi, 21, was shot by an NDF member in Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay after the second phase of the joint operation was launched. He was subsequently alleged to have been involved in a robbery and reportedly ran away when confronted by the joint police and armed forces on patrol.

In the latest incident, on 5 September a third victim, Benisius Kalola, 32, a resident of Single Quarters in Katutura was reportedly shot and killed by a member of the NDF participating in Operation Kalahari Desert. Kalola was said to be recording a raid by the police and army on a suspected drug den when he was confronted by the soldier to hand over his phone. It was reported that Kalola turned to run and was shot in the process of attempting to flee.

Reporting on the defence minister’s submission to Parliament this week, NBC News noted that Ya Ndakolo also “warned members of the public that taking videos or pictures of the armed forces is prohibited. According to the embattled public broadcaster, ya Ndakolo told Parliament that “such recordings pose a serious threat to the officers in uniform.”