Police assault

The reputation of law enforcement in Swakopmund has been dealt a blow over the weekend, after members of the town’s community policing, security officials and members of the Namibian Police assaulted a young man at a local night club. As a result of the assault the man suffered a torn retina to one of his eyes. His friend was also assaulted, including a blow to the side of his head by a fist and that whilst he was already hand-cuffed.
The incident occurred at around 03:00 on Sunday at the Vintage night club. Some fifteen people were still at the establishment, although the music was already turned off and no alcohol sold, as it was already past the curfew allowed by the club’s liquor license.
“It was a relaxed atmosphere. I sat and had a chat with a friend and suddenly there was a commotion as people with reflective jackets, uniforms and even guns entered the place. The air suddenly filled with teargas, prompting us all to leave the place in a hurry as our eyes were burning and we could hardly breath”, one of the victims explained this week.
Outside the club we asked the Police why they used pepper spray on us, whereafter we were simply told they teargassed the premises not the people. One of the more vocal members was a certain Hendrik Burger who was dressed in a reflective jacket and driving a vehicle of the business Emergency Security Services.
A video clipping recorded by cell phone surfaced this week which shows Burger pushing one of the patrons who questioned the police’s conduct. Burger is overheard telling this person to back down before he “loses his temper”. Another part of the video shows Burger getting physical with one of the other patrons who questioned the legality of them entering a premises in the manner in which they did it, and then using pepper spray on the people.
Things started to turn for the worst when the group of law enforcers were accused by the discontent patrons that their actions were unlawful. They told the patrons to leave, but the young man who ended up being seriously assaulted told them his vehicle was boxed in by two security vehicles. The group of law enforcers refused to give way and it was then that one of the female law enforcers realised the whole altercation is being recorded on video by cell phone.
They stormed the man who was recording and he was hit at the back of the head. He nonetheless threw the cell phone to his friend [the one who ended up severely assaulted] to avoid them taking away the phone. The law enforcers tackled the man to the ground and allegedly assaulted him. When this friend who did the recording tried to come to his rescue he was handcuffed and told he is now under arrest.
“Burger walked up to me, went behind me and squeezed the handcuffs so tight that I later had to beg them just to loosen it. They refused.
As they were arguing with my friend, to delete the video from his phone, Burger walked up to me and hit me with the fist on the side of my head. I was handcuffed and could not avoid the blow”, one of the victims explained.
He was forced into the back of a police van and driven to the Mondesa police station. His friend was ordered into the passenger seat of his vehicle and a security official drove his vehicle to the same police station. An armed policeman sat on the backseat.
At the police station Burger and the others started to intimidate them in order to have the video deleted.
“We became very scared when we were threatened that we will be locked up and the inmates in the cell would then make “girlfriends” of us and our backsides will then be aching as a result”.
My friend handed them the pin number of the phone and a female officer [who was also at the scene] deleted the video and double checked if it has not been sent to someone on Whatsapp.
We wanted to lay charges. We were refused. When we were told we can leave, we were also told we are not allowed to go to a hospital, despite my friend realising that he sustained a serious eye injury. Several vehicles escorted us to the Swakopmund bridge and we were told to go home [at Langstrand] and they don’t want to see us in Swakopmund, it is alleged.
The two victims returned to Swakopmund on Sunday and a general practitioner has already completed the necessary forms to confirm the injuries they sustained.
An information technology specialist managed to retrieve the deleted video.
The two victims were also interviewed by a police officer on Monday and a case was opened [CR52/07/2017]. Their statements were taken and the investigation will now take its course to determine what charges are to be laid against all the law enforcement personnel that were involved.

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