Oshana officers lack protective gear

...in fight against Covid-19

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

SECURITY personnel which constitute an important section of the frontline workers preventing the spread of Covid-19, lack personal protective equipment to shield them from the lethal virus that has already wreaked havoc around the world.

This means they are at risk of infection as they are constantly dealing with the public and some worry about the consequences if they come into contact with people that are infected by the dangerous new coronavirus.

This was disclosed by security personnel during a parade at Oshana police regional headquarters in Oshakati to welcome the security chiefs, including Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga, Chief of Defence Martin Pinehas and Commissioner-General of the Namibia Correctional Services Raphael Hamunyela, who were on an inspection visit to the region recently.

Addressing the security officials, Ndeitunga commended them for their “excellent work” but asked why none of them were wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks and gloves.

“One of the issues that I have noticed is that I don’t see anybody here wearing protective equipment. No gloves, face masks, probably [no] sanitizers, water or soap. Do you have these equipment?” he asked the large crowd, who responded “No” to the question.

He asked them again whether they were not supplied with PPE. Their commanders responded that “they are finished”, while the junior officials said they had not been given any. Ndeitunga noted that for law enforcement personnel to provide safety and security to the public they should be safe as well.

“We need to have this personal protective equipment and those that are having, and apart from the distancing you are already maintaining at your formatted parade, we are going to make sure that you are supplied with this equipment, because when you are coming in contact with any person – whether it’s a motorist, person to be cautioned or to be arrested – you need to have your gloves and mask on.

“You can’t touch a person without gloves. You can’t talk to a person without your mask because the droplets speed like a rocket from either side. The enemy that we are facing is very difficult to fight because even if we have modern equipment like AK-47s, Bazookas and Makarov… we can’t shoot it.

“We need to make people understand that the whole country is locked down. Unnecessary movement of people and goods people should [be avoided]. Only move when there is an emergency or to deliver essential services. This is the way we can minimise the spread of this coronavirus, but people of Oshakati, Ondangwa and even Rundu are still moving up and down, [doing] business as usual. This cannot be allowed. Those [officers] at road blocks and checkpoints, make sure that everyone who is circulating meets the regulations. The country is in the state of emergency. Some of the freedom of the citizens, such as freedom of association, [freedom] of movement have been suspended,” he said.

The police chief also urged law enforcement officials to desist from brutalising members of the public.