Petty criminals hold Walvis Bay ransom

Eileen van der Schyff

Scrap metal scavengers continue to inflict damage and losses to residents of Walvis Bay. In this latest incident in the central business district one of these scavengers broke off a water tap, leading to huge water losses and also the premises owner who had to incur expenses of several hundred Namibia Dollar to repair the damage.

Community members at the scene on Sunday said the Namibian Police need to step up foot patrols in the central business district during day time (seven days a week), as this is when most of these offenses are committed. Despite police officers deployed on foot, petty crimes and public menace remain out of hand. That can only mean the Police is not approaching foot patrols with a clear strategy in mind.
Walvis Bay is plagued by dozens of people walking around by day stealing from premises anything from taps, copper pipes, house numbers, hose pipes, chairs and others.
The latest trend is also for scavengers to steal rubbish bins at houses simply to carry their stolen items. Many of these scavengers shift to the central business district over the weekend where they consume alcohol, harass the public. Many live in empty houses in the central business district and even the suburbs where they also remove all fittings in the houses to sell as scrap metal.
In no uncertain terms these residents also called upon scrap metal dealers to tighten measures to curb the market for small metal items.
One resident also had what seems to be two very practical ideas: “Firstly, scrap metal dealers must have window periods when scrap of say under 50kg can be sold. Let us make it for instance Wednesday of every week from 09:00 to 16:00. On those days police officers must attend at the premises of the scrap dealers and every person’s belongings are searched and such persons must provide account of the origin of the items”. Adding if the person cannot explain the origin of the items it needs to be confiscated.
Secondly, this resident proposed, the Namibian Police should step up their stop and search of people’s who carry backpacks or other bags such as canvas bags. The Police must also confiscate shopping trolleys which are used by scavengers, as these trolleys belong to the supermarkets.
“We can deal crime a significant blow if our police take their daily patrols of Walvis Bay serious and for instance commit themselves to targets like 25 searches per member per day. Walvis Bay’s streets are also ruled currently by vendors who simply put up stalls on street corners and on pavements without proper hawkers licenses or confining themselves to hawkers’ areas. If we don’t tackle crime at grassroot level we would also not be able to curb more serious crimes. Let us start at the basics”, this person said.

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