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My experiences with authorities of Namibia (Ministry of Safety and Security, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment and Tourism)

A) Ministry of Safety and Security: Hereby "I open a case"...

Yesterday, on August 9, 2017, my wife and I came back from holiday in Namibia. We had explored Namibia by car.
In the following, I report on an incident that took place in Walvis Bay.
Why do I do it? I want to give other travellers a security warning when they travel through this beautiful country and I want to use a little chance to get back my stolen properties.

What happened

On Thursday, August 3, 2017, I planned a halfday trip with the Catamaran in the sea. I should be at 8.30 a.m. at a travel agency in Walvisbay.
Since I had wrongly recorded the address of the agency (it was my mistake; wrong adress: Walvisbay, corner 14th Rd and 6th St), I drove about 100 m from this place instead of 1st St into a side street of the 14th Rd, hoped to find the travel agency.
I noticed a group of about twenty men gathered along the street and on the sidewalk. They saw us and obviously they noticed that I was uncertain after three maneuvers in the side street.
I called the tour leader by phone that I will arrive later because of the wron adress.
I parked my vehicle about 100 meters away directly in front of the Ministry of Finance building on the 14th Rd to ask inside a local officer for the direction to the travel agency.
For this I locked my car with the remote key. I was under pressure to keep the date for the tour.
On leaving the car, my wife and I noticed that the group of the young men had followed us on the side walk of the secondary street.
After 2 - 3 minutes we left the office bulding to get back into the car.
I found out that my camera and my backpack, which were on the back seats, were stolen. The worth of the items was more than 1200 EUR, including 2 cameras with 2 fotochips, on which approx. 1200 holiday photos were saved.
We noticed that about 20 people from the group were watching us. Now they stood mostly on the opposite side of the 14th Rd, partly also on our road side (see picture, google).

incident

I asked a friendly officer from the Ministry of Finance to call the police.
Meanwhile our tour leader arrived with his car. I told him what happened and that I will pay 200 US-$ to the thief, if he gives back the stolen items. He drove with his car around the neighborhood.
After 5 - 10 minutes the police arrived. My wife and I were asked about the incident. The tour leader came back and told us that he had asked some persons whether they had observed the incident. He informed them that we make an offer of 200 US-$ for giving back the items. One of the persons answered that 200 US-$ is not enough.
Some minutes after the arrival of the 2 policemen a private car drove directly in front of us and the policemen. A woman on the passenger seat opened her window and asked the policemen several questions about the incident. They answered willingly. The woman seemed very determined. Beside her a man sat who seemed uninvolved.
When they left after about ten minutes, I informed the policemen about the survey of the tour leader and the answer of a member of the group that 200 US-$ in sot enough. I asked the policemen whether they had interrogate the group.
The policemen drove to some persons standing at a bus station on the end of 14th Rd.
Then we were asked to follow the police car to the police station on Nangolo Mbumba Rd. After entering the building the two policemen were no longer present. A policeman asked me two questions and to write the stolen items on a paper handed down by the officer. I noticed 2 cameras (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ101 and Canon Powershot S-120) with photochips (SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS 64 GB and Transcend Ultimate-Speed 32 GB), GPS device (Garmin Oregon® 450t), telescope (Nikon Aculon A30), wallet with visa card, money, identity card, driver's license, clothes etc. The officer wrote many sentences in a book, on more than half page.
I did not receive a protocol. Because the policeman did not ask me where I will stay in the next days, I gave him the adresses of the hotels. He wrote it into the book.
Then he gave me the following torn notes with the case number and phone number of the police station, under which I could get informations.

Dokument

At the end, I told the recording officer that I am willing to pay 700 US-$, if somebody gives back the stolen chips of the 2 cameras.
On Sunday, August 7th, immediately after my departure from the Etosha Park in the north of Namibia, I asked the prosecutor in Outjo to call the police at Walvisbay to get informations about the case.
During my presence the friendly prosecutor called the police station. I was informed that no case had been opened at the police station in Walvisbay ("A case was not been opened") and therefore the incident was not investigated.
It means that the case number I got in the police station was pointlessly.

Assessment, advice, conclusion

I can not understand that my wife and I have not been informed by the police in Walvisbay that a "case" should be opened for an investigation. I thought that I had done everything I could, so that an investigation could start.
I can not understand that the police has not taken any identity of persons from the group. If the thief were only a person who was active on his own, the chance of getting back the stolen items is very small.
However, since a group of young men and many other persons have observed the incident, the chance is much higher that one betrays to the other one.

My advice to travellers: If several people are near you, do not close your car with the remote control, but use the key. Thus, the locking operation can not be blocked, the frequency can not be scanned.

Loosing the 1200 photos of my trip hurts me far more than the loss of the items. I'll give 700 US-$ for the photochip.
Please send emails to: bernd@ikanmas.de.
I give my word of honor that I will pay after transmission.
It is clear for me that the one who will send the chip to me has nothing to do with the theft.

Bernd from Bochum, Germany
Bochum, on August 10, 2017

Supplement 1

To give informations about the incident and keep my chance of clarifying the case, on August 12, 2017, I wrote emails to the following offices of the namibian police:

Regional Commander, Commissioner Erongo Region
Police National Headquarter
Head Crime Investigation Directorate
Internal Investigation Directorate
Public Relations Directorate

The email addresses I got from the official homepage of the Police of Namibia.

All emails were rejected, within 12 hours from the first to the last rejection.

To keep my chance next I will inform further institutions of Namibia and the public press.

Bernd from Germany
Bochum, on August 14, 2017

Supplement 2

I used another email address to send my message to the above police offices.

Also these emails were rejected, now within 2 hours from the first to the last rejection.

I will wait some days, hopefully to get any reaction from another office in Namibia.

If there will be no answer I will give the following recommendation to tourists: If something happens to you in Namibia like me, don't waste your time with the police, they will not help you. Maybe they will ask you something, so that they can write anything in a book. Maybe for intern statistic matters. Maybe not for the official criminal statistic.

Better try to enjoy your last days in this nice country even if it's difficult.

Bernd from Germany
Bochum, on August 15, 2017

Supplement 3

On 17th of August, 2017 the daily newspaper "Republikein" reports about the incident ("Beloning vir vakansiefoto’s uitgeloof . Toeriste se rugsak gesteel"), see https://www.republikein.com.na/nuus/beloning-vir-vakansiefotos-uitgeloof-/.

Thank you very much!

Bernd from Germany
Bochum, on August 21, 2017

Supplement 4

I have not received any response from the unable (better: corrupt) police of Namibia nor from Namibian authorities.

Hereby I "close the case".

Bernd from Germany
Bochum, on January 01, 2018

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B) Ministry of Finance

Because of the theft of my camera on 8/3/2017 I bought a new camera in Swakopmund (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70). For the value-added tax (VAT) I applied for a refund at the airport in Windhoek, according to the VAT REFUND INFORMATION FOR FOREIGN TOURIST AND NON RESIDENTS (see http://www.namibweb.com/vatrefund.htm).

At the counter I received the following form (personal informations are partially overwritten):

VAT

The woman at the counter replied to our question, when the payment would be credited to our account, unfriendly: "4 weeks!".

Until today, about 2 months after my application, the amount was not credited by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Namibia. My e-mails to info@taxrefundnamibia.com were rejected as undeliverable.

The behavior of the Ministry of Finance of Namibia is the same as that of the Namibian police: not according to the rules respectively to the law, up to collusive.

Bernd from Germany
Bochum, on September 29, 2017

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C) Ministry of Environment and Tourism

In the following I report about an incident which has happened to us in the wonderful Etosha National Park. It fits in with the previously described picture of a lethargic and self-reliant administration of Namibia.

On 8/6/2017, by visiting the Etosha National Park, my wife and I entered the park with our cross-country vehicle. On the main runway from Okaukuejo to Namutoni we turned in a dust grivel way to the north. After few kilometres the right rear tire of our vehicle bursted. We had to change the tire in a surrounding in which lion's change was announced. After half an hour a nice spanish couple helped us giving attention on wild animals, while I lay under the car and changed the tyre. Because we had no second spare tyre and it was already afternoon, we wanted to take no risk and visit the national park not further, but immediately drive back to our lodging in the south of Okaukuejo, outside of the park. On the way back the vehicle of a park ranger approached us. We stopped and asked him for advice where we could repair the tyre. The ranger said, we should better drive back to the east, to the garage in Namutoni which still belongs to the park area and where our tyre would be mended. We did so, even it was 3.00 p.m.

The owner of the garage informed us that he could not repair the tyre. We should do it in a garage in Outjo. Therefore we should take the same way back to Okaukuejo and after leaving the gate drive to the south. We asked him whether we should not better take the asphalt road about Otavi, outside of the park, because it's more secure for our vehicle tyres and also the park would close already about 17.30 p.m. The owner meant: No, no, better stay on the road in the park, you have still enough time, until the park closes, and even if you will not arrive at 17.30 p.m. at the gate, the gate officer would let us out easily because we would come from the east and because we have had an emergency by changing the tyre; we would surely arrive the gate before 17.30 p.m. We accepted his advice and wanted to drive off. Nevertheless, the garage owner gave us a sign and asked us to help him and to take an employee of his fuel station to Okaukuejo. Of course we accepted. Strangely enough it lasted about 20 minutes, until his employee, who always talked with some persons and was laughing, entered our car to drive with us to Okaukuejo. It appeared that these minutes were very expensive for us and costed more than one day of our holiday.

We drove back the about 135 km long distance to Okaukuejo (at raised speed to reach the gate on time) and set down the man there (his name was "Grace", he told us). He did not even thank us. At 17.42 p.m., so 12 minutes after official closing time of the park, we reached the western park gate. Nevertheless, there we might not drive out, also a vehicle with a family from Botswana which has reached the gate also few minutes too late. The park officer told us, we might not leave Namibia if we had not deposited a penalty of 2.000 NAD (converted about 140 €) in the court at Outju. Surprised we answered, that we have had an emergency in the park because we must change the tyre and that a park ranger urgently had recommended us not to drive directly to Okaukuejo but to Namutoni and that we would have taken an employee of the garage owner for auxiliary, so that he could join with his family in the evening in Okaukuejo. The park officer replied that I cannot prove the emergency in the park (burst tyre). So I wanted to show him the bursted tyre in the box on the loading area of our vehicle. But nevertheless he declined fast and meant, this would be not necessary. After that he needed more than one hour - and it seemed to us that he did not do anything in this time - to inform us with the fact that we must pay the penalty of 2.000 NAD. Nevertheless he gave us the advice to ask at the court of Outju for remitting the penalty; therefore we should have a good chance. In deep darkness we left the lonely park gate. For a paid-up evening safari in the area around our lodge it was already too late.

Next morning in Outju we let repair the tyre in a garage. We went to the court to request that the penalty should be suspended. The prosecutor took care of the case. She was friendly and asked us to wait a little bit, because she must discuss the case with the mayor. After 2 hours waiting we got the result: no extenuating circumstances, either we must pay or stay in the country. The reasons for this were not mentioned to us, except that this was the legal situation and we would have had just bad luck. After that we transferred 2.000 NAD at the court cashier.

In the afternoon we could continue our Namibia trip to the next station: Waterberg Plateau. We arrived too late to visit the plateau. Conclusion: The day and the evening before were lost, the holiday fund had shrunked by 2.000 NAD.

Everyone may interpret the case for his own. My advice to Namibian travelers is: Do not be overly generous to strangers with your helpfulness, a request for help could be a fake. And in emergency do not count on the help or understanding of Namibia's authorities. For them it's not more than a conversation subject with an entertainment value.

Bernd from Germany
Bochum, on January 07, 2018

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Despite these extraordinarily unpleasant experiences with Namibia's authorities, I am very happy to have seen this beautiful country.

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Update 07/01/2018 (because of many questions about the status of the matter):
No, there was no reaction from any namibian authority

 

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