Anti-poaching police lack resources

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Windhoek - Police officers in the anti-poaching unit lack proper resources to carry out their duties in the field, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources, Sophia Swartz, has said.

Swartz was speaking during a meeting with the Namibian Police Force’s (NamPol) Inspector General, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga here on Tuesday.

The committee held a one-week inspection of the Etosha National Park from 27 May 2018 during which they also spoke to police officers.

Officers at the King Kauluma Gate amongst others complained that they do not get enough food.

Ndeitunga acknowledged that there are problems and said especially the police officers deployed to curb poaching in the Bwabwata National Park, work under difficult circumstances.

A total of 267 police officers have been deployed in efforts to curb poaching - 125 to Etosha, 90 to Bwabwata and 52 to Palmberg. They serve on a rotational basis.

When asked about the agreement between NamPol and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Ndeitunga responded that the police force is expected to provide the officers and the ministry the food, fuel, vehicles and helicopters for patrolling, but this is not always possible because of a lack of funds.

“There are no proper vehicles for the terrain and it has been the case for years,” he said.

Further, his office sometimes receives reports that the officers’ food has been depleted before the next consignment is due.

A lack of proper cooling facilities also means food supplies are limited to non-perishable food items only.

Ndeitunga said the lack of resources is experienced by all NamPol departments, including by officers at the borders and this affects officers’ morale, making them vulnerable to bribery.

The committee clerk, Protasius Nghileendele, said Namibian Defence Force members deployed in the same areas did not have similar complaints.

“They are from the Special Force, trained to survive in harsh conditions, plus the NDF has a different supply chain to that of NamPol,” Ndeitunga said.

The committee urged Ndeitunga to meet with Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta to solve the problems so officers can do their jobs effectively, to which the inspector general replied that he already has plans to do so.

The committee is also set to meet with Shifeta on 30 April. - Nampa

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