Avihe cold case reflects gaps in policing

The cold case of Avihe Cheryl Ujaha who was gruesomely murdered nearly five years ago shows that our policing system in pursuit of justice has gaps that need to be plugged if we are to solve cases faster and provide much needed closure for grieving families.

Until today, police are appealing to anyone with information on her killer or killers to come forward while Khomas police regional commander Commissioner Ismael Basson says there is currently no new information on the case.

This case is not the only one that has failed to generate leads that lead to arrests. We have seen many reports within the mainstream media in Namibia where the responsible authorities have failed to apprehend suspect killers, rapists, robbers and thieves who until today still live amongst us.

More worryingly, a closer look at case outcomes points to the toll that the lack of adequate resources in crime intelligence and detective service are beginning to take on investigative capacity.

Although South Africa does have more crime than Namibia, it must be commended for the swiftness it exhibits when dealing with high profile crimes. One such example was last week’s swift arrest of three suspects after the murder of Hillary Gardee a few days earlier.

Sipho Lawrence Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Mduduzi Gama were apprehended and charged with murder, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and possession of illegal firearms. Gardee was killed in the early hours of May 3. The 28-year-old was shot in the back of the head and stabbed in the chest.

Her father, Godrich Gardee, is a senior leader of the EFF.

Last year, Auditor-General Junias Kandjeke poked holes in the country’s justice system, saying it has failed to hold criminals accountable due to the failure of finalising cases, which consequently results in them being withdrawn.

It is his stance that criminals are allowed to play with the system to ensure that cases do not proceed until witnesses and complainants lose interest in the matter. He said despite government spending a lot of money on the justice system, people have lost their trust in it.

What is factual at this time is that despite two years of lockdown restrictions, which saw fewer offences being committed, crime and violence levels in Namibia are again rising. Most crime, but mainly that which is violent and organised, looks likely to worsen if there are no fundamental improvements in policing.

These increases are probably the consequence of a combination of factors such as socio-economic deterioration, urbanisation, increased inequality and declining police performance among others.

Given this, it is imperative that responsible law enforcement authorities develop a clear strategy to tackle crime.

Reducing the factors contributing to violent crimes would probably improve the confidence Namibians have on the justice system.