Mass confrontation at Ileni

Mass confrontation at Ileni

Several people were injured and rushed to the Keetmanshoop State Hospital after gunshots and rubber bullets were fired into rioting mobs in the Ileni informal settlement in Keetmanshoop on Sunday.
The shots were allegedly fired by aggressive civilians and officers of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) during a mass confrontation that lasted for hours between battling residents of the large informal area.
The police fired the shots to quell fighting among the crowds while some individuals allegedly used the chaotic situation to also fire shots, some residents and anonymous police officers on the scene claimed.
Around five people were taken for medical treatment while one was reportedly rushed to Windhoek in a serious condition.
NamPol’s //Kharas Regional Commander, Commissioner Rudolf Isaak who was present at the uproar, declined to give immediate comment.
“We are investigating and dealing with the matter at hand and will release a full statement in due course,” Isaak said.
The police, national intelligence and military personnel had their hands full during the mass fight which started with an alleged crime and soon escalated into what appeared to be a confrontation between two groups.
The police also released a number of cylinders of tear gas into crowds among the shacks, causing hundreds of people, including children, to flee into the already-packed streets.
Angry youth were seen shouting and swearing, some throwing stones into the thousands of people gathered in Ileni's streets.
According to residents, the fight started when a man allegedly attacked another man whom he accused of stealing a laptop.
“We heard shots and started running out of our homes into the streets,” Albertus Phillips told Nampa.
Residents on the street then soon started to verbally abuse each other, uttering tribal insults.
The confrontations continued in the presence of police, whom both groups also accused of brutality, discrimination and inaction.
Some threatened to set shacks on fire and kill people during the course of the night.
“You will see, we will kill each other tonight when you are gone,” several people were heard shouting to police.
The area has no electricity and as the sun was setting, the police separated the two groups who were then addressed in Nama and Oshiwambo by Keetmanshoop Councillor Ernst Jash and Swapo Party regional coordinator Matheus Mumbala respectively.
Both pleaded with the factions to return home and remain peaceful “for the sake of the children” for the remainder of the night.
At around 20h30, some members of the groups had returned to their homes, but rocks thrown against corrugated iron zinc were heard soon after.
Police responded by following the sounds and Isaak indicated that patrols would be conducted throughout the night to maintain law and order and to keep the Ileni residents safe.