Homeless assaulted by Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch

A group of ten vulnerable and homeless young men who shelter in an old building at the old Little Foot Nursery centre says their stay there has become a nightmare because of members of the Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch.
The young men approached namib times this week to share their grievances. According to Captain Kalola (28), he has been sheltering at this location for close to three years now. Kalola says the first year they stayed there they felt safer than sheltering in Mondesa.
However, when the Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch established they were sheltering there, they allegedly started to harass them. This included being pepper sprayed in the middle of the night whilst sleeping. “We have been tortured by these men. We have not complained, because these people feel we have no voice and no say.
The worst of all is we have no power against them. Fighting back is dangerous, because they have weapons and nobody will believe us that it was self-defence” explains Kalola.
The young men approached namib times and complained they feel that the neighbourhood watch is not treating them fairly. On Monday of this week, around 05:00, they heard shots fired in the direction of their place of stay.
The noise was very loud. “We looked out of the window to see who was firing the shots. We realised it was a white pick-up we recognised from the Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch. The vehicle pulled away”, explained Kalola.
The young men say they tried approaching NamPol to lay a complaint about the neighbourhood watch, but every time they are chased away. Kalola also said whenever there is a housebreaking somewhere in town, members of the neighbourhood approach them and start to hurt them physically, threaten them and accusing them of crimes.
“We hurt no one. We are just living at the centre and during the day we watch over people’s cars to get some money in exchange, so we have something to eat. We are harmless, but people treat us as criminals.
Most of us here have not even been in a jail cell before. We just want to be left alone”, says Kalola.
The group says they believe that the neighbourhood watch should invest their time in arresting the real criminals, rather than spending time torturing them on a daily basis. The young men say they simply want to be left alone and not to be forced into a position where they have to defend themselves against those who are supposed to adhere to the law too. They also said they would be delighted if the Swakopmund Municipality avail them a small home where they can all live, because they do not have parents or anyone to care for them.
Sipapa Domingo (22) showed the media his health passports. He was recently admitted to hospital. Domingo suffers from mental illness and admits often he cannot remember some events in his life as a result of his mental illness.
Domingo approached namib times to plead for a blanket and some warm clothes. He says the floor he sleeps on is very cold, and this makes him ill. The constant fear of the next round of assault, pepper spray and gun shots affect them all. “I have not been sleeping lately because I now live in fear.
I am frightened, I know my friends will take care of me, but how do we protect ourselves from armed people?”, asked Domingo. The young men said they wish President Hage Geingob reads this and can find a way to help them. They also plead with the Namibian Police’s regional command to draw the line as to how far the rights and duties of members of community policing go.

*This group of homeless men complained this week of harsh treatment at the hands of members of Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch. This follows only days after a similar incident at the Vintage Bar and Grill in Swakopmund where community policing members and members of the Namibian Police’s permanent Force entered the premises and pepper sprayed patrons.
They alleged alcohol was served outside the hours allowed by the establishment’s liquor licence. Yet, no charges were pressed against the owner of Vintage. Instead the community policing group were embroiled in arguments with patrons who had to evacuate the place as a result of the pepper gas that was sprayed. Two of the patrons were “arrested”, assaulted after they were handcuffed and later threatened at the Mondesa police station with sodomy, if they did not delete the video footage.
Burger confessed to the editor of namib times, Floris Steenkamp, that indeed he assaulted one of the patrons who at the time was cuffed with his hands behind his back. Four people witnessed this incident, yet at the time of going to press no action had been taken against Burger.

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