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Unsympathetic Cops

ROAD BLOCK: Police checking for permits
ROAD BLOCK: Police checking for permits

‘No permit….prepare to pay!’

Maun police were on Monday called in to control a restless crowd at the North West Rural Administration Centre as tempers reached boiling point in the midday heat.

The cops were reportedly summoned to the centre after a sizeable number of people threatened to block council employees from leaving the premises before issuing them all with permits.

The agitated crowd maintained that they needed permits to go and buy essentials including food and medication.

The group’s main grievance was that the police were giving them a hard time and charging them for leaving their homes without the necessary permits.

However, to get a permit, they have to travel to the District Commissioner’s office where they often have to wait for hours.

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Summing up the frustrations of many, a young mum, Selebogo Masedi dismissed the system as flawed.

“We are living under dictatorship. Yesterday we were told we can go to the shops without permits and today we are charged P1, 000 for doing the same. How are we expected to get permits without leaving our homes? This is unfair. I had come to buy milk for my baby and got a charge!” seethed Masedi.

Speaking to Okavango Voice, Maun Police Station Commander, Chenamo Orateng confirmed his officers’ presence at the council but maintained they were there to ensure the mandatory one metre distancing was observed by those queuing for permits.

COMMOTION: Queuing for permits
COMMOTION: Queuing for permits

“People want permits but we are law enforcers. We are following directions of the Director of Health Services that anyone who leaves their home during the national lockdown has to get a permit first,” Orateng reiterated.

Asked how the public were meant to get permits without first leaving their homes, the top cop was unrelenting.

“That is not the police’s business. The law says when a person leaves their home to get an essential service, they must be carrying with them a movement permit. As to how they get the forms or fill them, that is not our business, ours is to ensure that everyone abides by the law!”

According to a report from the North West District, over the first weekend of lockdown (4 and 5 April), 1, 415 pedestrians were stopped in the district, of which 397 had no permits and seven were charged. Additionally, 644 cars were stopped but none charged. With the cops new unsympathetic stance, these numbers are likely to rise drastically from now on!

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