CHAOS erupted at Herero Mall in Katutura, Windhoek on Friday evening when the Police clashed with an unruly crowd who refused to let the Police close down shebeens which were operating without licences.
Herero Mall has recently been at the centre of attention following a bust-up between Khomas Regional Councillor Ambrosius Kandjii and a shebeen owner, and a Police clampdown on illegal alcohol sales.
Outlets at the Herero Mall are only supposed to sell until seven o’clock in the evening.
However, when about three or four Police officers arrived at Herero Mall on Friday evening to close down operations for the evening, they were met by disgruntled and unruly shebeen owners and patrons who demanded that the Police show them the documents authorising the closure of the shebeens.
The Police Officers then left the scene only to return about 20 minutes later with about 30 Police and Special Reserve members. The situation quickly spiralled out of control as patrons and shebeen owners refused to allow the Police to close the shops.
While the Police fired teargas and bullets into the air to disperse the agitated crowd, the Police themselves faced a barrage of rocks and empty bottles from the crowd.
The chaos was however not confined to Herero Mall itself, as a number of the teargas canisters landed close to nearby houses. Residents with small children who had been sleeping or were at home had to leave their houses and wait for the gas to dissipate.
One resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said there are small children and old people in the area. “We could not sleep, our eyes and ears were burning and the children were terrified,” the man said.
One man at Herero Mall asked why only that place was being targeted by the Police and why shebeens in Eveline Street were allowed to operate until late into the night.
Deputy Commissioner Traugott Nghambe said the Police had been on a routine patrol in the area, when people at Herero Mall started throwing rocks and glass bottles at the Police vehicles. Nghambe said that the crowd became bigger and surrounded the Police vehicle.
A reserve force was dispatched to the area, and when it arrived, it fired teargas to disperse the crowd and rescue the patrolling Police officers, who had become trapped, according to Nghambe. “It was not yet closing time for the shebeens, and the Police were just patrolling, when they were attacked. This sort of thing is uncalled for and unacceptable,” Nghambe said. He added that one person was injured, but no arrests were made.