Although the Forensic Unit of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) was still on the scene by Sunday afternoon investigating the cause of the fire, early indications were that the fire was caused by an electric short circuit in the police building.
Although no one was injured in the fire, it nonetheless caused panic to hordes of police officers deployed here, as it came within inches of a petrol tank which is used to fuel police vehicles.
What would have been a major catastrophe had the tank blown up, was however averted by the swift response from the officers and neighbouring farming community, who rushed to the scene to fight the fire.
Their fire-fighting efforts also assisted in preventing the fire from reaching the police holding cells, where trial-awaiting prisoners are being kept.
NamPol Regional Commander for the Omaheke Region, Commisioner Josephat Abel told Nampa at the scene on Sunday that the police only managed to rescue more recent crime dockets – with many others having gone up in flames.
“We were lucky to salvage most of the fresh dockets. The others were however located too deep to rescue in time. Some of those destroyed in the fire are completed cases, and do not pose a problem,” Abel said.
The male police barracks, main charge office and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) offices were all destroyed in the fire. Police officers, however, managed to rescue most of their belongings before their rooms caught fire.
Abel estimated the damage to the building to run into millions of Namibian dollars.
In the meantime, the police will set up a temporary charge office, using one of its mobile police units while investigations continue.
“It is a sad situation. As you can see on the other side, we were busy extending the police station here, only to be met with such setbacks. It is very unfortunate indeed,” Abel noted.
The Buitepos Police Station serves the Namibian-Botswana Border Post, neighbouring farming community, and areas as remote as Otjombinde.
Buitepos is located 113km east of Gobabis.