GOBABIS: Gang activities which had the community living in fear of their lives over a year or so ago when sporadic assault and attacks on residents was the order of the day, appear to have resurfaced at this eastern town.
These gangs consist mainly of young out-of-school and school-going youth from some of the town’s main schools like Wennie du Plessis and other Epako secondary schools.
Going by different pseudonyms such as the KKK, Twizzers, BTR (Boyz to Respect), Alaska Bende (Gang), Vuilmaak (Dirty Makers), My Ma Se Kind (My Mother’s Child), Skoffels (Shufflers) Skoonmakers (Cleaners), Stukkend Maak (Breakers) – a breakaway faction of the Skoonmakers and G-Family – had threatened to turn Gobabis into a “gangsta’s paradise”.
Residents appeared to have put a lid on the gangs’ reign of terror after some community members rounded up alleged leaders of some of the gangs, and brutally attacked them in June last year.
Nampa has, however, learnt that the wave of attacks on residents, especially at night clubs and bars in the Epako township, have resurfaced, with residents recounting such attacks over the past few weeks.
Confirming reports of people attacked at random in Epako, Namibian Police Force (NamPol) Regional Commander for the Omaheke Region, Commissioner Josephat Abel on Tuesday warned those guilty of such practices to stop henceforth.
He said the Omaheke Police will do everything in its power to rid the region of any gang activities which threaten the peace and tranquility of other residents.“What we do not know is who these perpetrators are, as people hardly report such cases, probably fearing intimidation from their attackers. The police are here to protect everyone, and we cannot afford that people live in fear in an independent country,” Abel said.
Nampa has established that the revived gang activities are now strictly along tribal lines, pitting OtjiHerero-speaking residents against Damara/Nama-speaking residents. According to information obtained by this agency, the ‘Skoonmakers’ are predominantly Damara/Nama youth, while the ‘Skoffels’ were apparently formed by OvaHerero youth to ‘counter’ activities of the ‘Skoonmakers’.
The influx of people from neighbouring farms and rural areas in search of job opportunities has been partly blamed for the spiralling rate of crime at the town. When job opportunities fail to mature, they recline to the town’s informal settlements, where survival is a daily struggle.
The police commissioner pleaded with community members to refrain from taking the law into their own hands when dealing with the alleged gangsters, advising that they should instead approach the police for assistance in such cases.
“To prevent further scuffles between community members and alleged members of these gangster groups, residents should let the police do the law-maintaining work. You can play a more important role by being our eyes and ears on the ground,” he said.