Police officer on receiving end of the law

Eileen van der Schyff

Two men posing as police officers will learn the hard way that impersonating a law enforcement officer, and in doing so use this as a means to extort money from members of the public, is a serious crime.

Furthermore, the public also needs to learn a lesson that it is dangerous and financially risky to pay bribes in exchange for the release of prisoners or to have police dockets disappear.
A 78-year-old man, whose son is in custody for an unknown crime since March this year, was approached by a man identifying himself as Constable Swartbooi. The supposed Constable Swartbooi told the man a prosecutor at the magistrate’s court in Swakopmund is willing to grant his son bail, but only in exchange for N$5 000.
The man agreed and a meeting was set up in Walvis Bay where the man would hand over N$550 “to start the process”.
A few days later “Constable Swartbooi” arranged for a second meeting in Mondesa in Swakopmund where the man had to hand over N$5 500.
The “Constable Swartbooi” not only took the N$5 500 from the man but also grabbed other money the man had in his possession to the tune of a further N$2 500.
This “Constable Swartbooi”, knowing he was dealing with an elderly man took advantage of his victim’s vulnerability.
Swartbooi some days later again contacted the man and demanded a new cell phone. He ended up allegedly grabbing his elderly victim’s cell phone and running away.
The elderly man decided to call in the assistance of the Namibian Police when “Constable Swartbooi” again contacted him and asked for N$5 000 to make his son’s police docket disappear.
A trap was set for “Constable Swartbooi”.
The police pounced on “Swartbooi” and an accomplice.
When the accomplice realised the police was upon them, he pulled out a knife and attacked one of the officers. In the scuffle the police realised the man was carrying a firearm.
A member of the police fired a shot at the man, wounding him in the thigh. It was only discovered after the event that the man was carrying a toy gun.
The duo was arrested and charged with extortion, and impersonating a police officer. Further charges relating to the assault on members of the police were added.
The thug that was shot was briefly hospitalised under police guard.
“Constable Swartbooi” and his accomplice in the meantime made a first appearance in the Swakopmund magistrate’s court. This time round their true identities were revealed: The accused are Reginald January (accomplice) and “Constable Swartbooi” is Stefanus Lineekela.

Not only is it illegal in itself to bribe someone, even if it is bribing someone who poses as an official, but the risk associated it is facing arrest yourself, your valuables being stolen or you are physically hurt, as these thugs will use any means to reach their ill-intended objectives.

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