Cemetery attack highlights city’s safety issues

17 November 2021 | Crime

Windhoek • [email protected]

A man who was brutally assaulted and robbed at the Pioneers Park Cemetery last week, has warned fellow residents that Windhoek is no longer safe.
“What began as a pilgrimage to pay homage to the deceased daughter of a friend at the Pioneers Park Cemetery ended up with me being treated for wounds sustained as a result of an assault and robbery at the hands of three robbers who, after taking my cellphone and money, proceeded to tie me up and hit me with a rock over the head,” Windhoeker Vitalio Angula wrote of the attack recently.
He wrote about the incident on his social media account, titling it “Namibia is no longer safe, Windhoek is no longer safe!”
Angula said that on Friday afternoon last week, he had visited the cemetery with a friend, and at one point walked alone to look for the grave of a loved one.
Suddenly he noticed three men walking towards him. Sensing danger, he turned and walked in the opposite direction, but the men began chasing him.
Once they reached him, they grabbed him and tried to wrestle his cellphone from him. In the process one of the men bit his finger, and he was shoved to the ground. After they had taken his cellphone, they began searching his pockets and then tried to remove his shoes.
“I told them ‘you are now finished and now you can leave me alone!’ I had no idea this was only the beginning of a nightmare that would not end any time soon,” Angula wrote.
When he started screaming for help, the men shoved sand in his mouth to silence him. Angula recounted that during the attack, he feared his life was over, while the men began tying his hands and legs together with the shoelaces.
They also continued shoving sand into his mouth.
They ended the attack by hitting him in the face with a rock, and “the men then casually walked away”.
After struggling for some time to get up and move to find help, Angula’s friend arrived and they located the lone security guard stationed at the cemetery, who was able to free Angula from the shoelaces.
Angula says he experienced extreme thirst and was spitting and vomiting sand.
“I was tired, I was scared, and I was disappointed in myself. I felt shame, I felt guilt, and I was traumatised. I blamed myself and I blamed my friend. I cursed the living Gods, why could I have not been more vigilant?”

A CT scan showed he did not suffer internal brain injuries, but he was given medicine for a possible lung infection because of the sand he ingested. By Tuesday, he said he was still experiencing a wet cough as a result of the sand being forced down his throat.
He also sustained injuries to his face and arms.
After speaking to the police, Angula says he was informed that “someone else also fell victim to a gang that is suspected to be operating in the vicinity. According to the police, I am the third such robbery to take place at the cemetery that week and one of two for the day.”
City police spokesperson Constable Fabian Amukwelele on Wednesday said there are individuals that are criminal opportunists, and target isolated areas and vulnerable people.
“It's not a dedicated gang, they are opportunities that are ambushing people.”
He said it's not just the cemetery but other parts of the city such as Rocky Crest, where incidents of a similar nature have occurred.
He said based on this modus operandis, Namibians should avoid isolated places.
He added that in the run up to the festive season, attacks of this nature are likely to increase, and while the police do their best to monitor high risk areas, they cannot be everywhere.
“If they see there is heat on them, they shift to other areas with no police presence. We can’t be everywhere, unfortunately.”
He said residents should avoid areas that are isolated and there is little oversight by security guards or police.
Amukwelele also noted that at some areas, while a security guard or more are posted, the security guards are tasked to monitor large areas and cannot keep an eye at all points at all times. He added that many are also not armed or equipped to deal with violent attacks.

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