WITVLEI: Residents of Witvlei have called on the police at the town to patrol riverbeds, pathways and roads on a regular basis to curtail escalating crime at the town.
Residents Nampa spoke to on Friday complained that criminals use the thick bushes at the town as hide-outs when committing crimes, while unsuspecting people passing through the area are often attacked.
The residents argue that as a large number of Witvlei residents are marginalised, wild fruits serve as a prime source of food. Such residents are attacked when they wander into the veld to collect food.
Residents complained that they often fall prey to attacks from criminals when they venture into the veld to collect firewood in the area.
“We want the police to lead a clean-up campaign to rid Witvlei, especially the area between town and Omataura (residential area). We do not feel safe here at all,” a resident noted.
The residents want the local police to set up Women and Men Against Crime Network committees to assist the police with the rooting out of crime at the town.
“Such a committee would act as an informant to the police as it will be deeply vested in the community and run by community members themselves,” noted another resident who did not want to be named.
The Women and Men network originated in Oshakati in 2009. It consists of a network of volunteers who assist the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) as part of a community policing concept.
They claim that at least one person is mugged or robbed by thugs – many of whom are out-of-school children – every other day at the town.
The absence of street lights in most part of Witvlei is also a source of concern for residents here as a large part of the town sinks into darkness at night, with only a few streetlights in working order.
The residents also called on the stricter regulations of shebeens at the town, noting that due to the fact that many shebeens are unlicensed, they often prove a haven for criminals.
“The sale of alcohol to underage children is a serious concern here. These students do not know how to drink responsibly and get very violent after consuming alcohol,” a concerned resident, Anna Vries told Nampa.
Omaheke Police Regional Commander, Commisioner Josephat Abel told Nampa on Monday that reports of criminals lurking in bushes have been rife at Witvlei.
He, however, noted that frequent patrols by the police in the reported areas have already been taking place.
‘We value the lifes of our citizens and will therefore do everything possible to make sure people feel safe,’ he said.
Poverty is rife at Witvlei as a large number of residents are unemployed. Besides those employed on neighbouring farms in the area, only a handful are employed at Government offices, the Witvlei Abbatoir and village council offices, leaving the bulk of residents to rely on casual labour – if and when available.