Ndeitunga calls for harsher penalties for drug crimes

By Rosalia David and Maria Kandjungu

HEAD of the Namibian police, Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga wants stiffer punishments for drug related crimes after the police arrested 809 suspects in the first six months of the year in drug busts involving N$8 million.

Of the 809 suspects who were arrested between January and June, 739 are citizens which Ndeitunga says points to Namibia being ‘a nation of drug users and dealers’ who are not deterred by the current lenient punishment issued by the courts and the weak  police efforts to combat the use of drugs in the country.

“Namibia used to be a transit for drugs but now there is a high demand for the use of drugs, so you see that dealers have found a very profitable market here and that is the problem. On top of that there is a lack of equipment for law enforcers to detect drugs at the borders before they enter the country. These different drugs are coming from all over the region and beyond mostly through trucks that deliver essential goods, but we do not have the facilities or advanced equipment to detect them,” he said.

Statistics released to Confidente show that the police seized 765 983 kg of cannabis (weed) which alone was worth N$7.6 million. They also found 1 031 grams of cocaine worth N$515 500, crack cocaine worth N$63 500, Mandrax worth N$399 000, crystal meth (tik) worth N$5 000, eight Cytotec pills valued at N$4 800 and 29 grams of hashish worth N$1 450.

According to Ndeitunga while the efforts of the police may not be visible with the now increasing drug related crimes, the fight is very costly and is digging deep into police pockets.

“These are concealed crimes that require sophisticated strategies and equipment. You sometimes need to pay off your informers, and you cannot pay someone N$500 when they can get N$5 000 from the dealer to keep quiet. You need big money. You also need to dress the officers to fit the operations, you need vehicles especially when it’s out of town for operations, so the cost is very high.”

Ndeitunga said drug related crimes are on the rise also because community members are too reluctant to report these cases to authorities and the few being arrested are the consumers and not the actual dealers.

“We have a passive society with a mindset of ‘it is not my business’ who don’t report these incidents but they know the dealers, they live in our communities and people know them but people don’t report … they are maybe afraid to be victimised, they look away and keep quiet and this does not assist us in the fight,” he said.

He further highlighted that drugs are a huge concern to them as many young Namibians are now turning to drugs especially those who come from broken homes or those surrounded by family members who are drug users and drug dealers.

“The young ones are sometimes used to transport drugs from one spot to another as they are not easily suspected by the police,” he said.