Attack on tourists ‘shameful’

CONCERNING … Italian tourists were kidnapped and robbed at Swakopmund on Monday, resulting in calls for stronger law enforcement at the town. Photo: Adam Hartman

An incident in which tourists were assaulted, kidnapped and robbed at Swakopmund on Monday has sparked concerns over tourists’ safety at the coast.

The Italian tourists involved, lost belongings worth N$95 000, including cash, during the incident.

Erongo police spokesperson inspector Ileni Shapumba has expressed deep concern over the incident.

“We are concerned. Yes, and it is shameful. Nobody wants to experience or see incidents of that magnitude,” he says.

He notes the possible involvement of organised crime, emphasising the need for collaboration among stakeholders to address the issue.

Shapumba says there are ongoing efforts to identify and profile individuals involved in criminal activities related to tourism.

“It spoils the image of the country, and it spoils business,” he says.

Shapumba says the police will continue to intensify operations and conduct intelligence operations.

He calls for public cooperation and advises tourists to keep their belongings secure – especially at night.

Shapumba says a case has been opened, but no arrests have been made yet.

He says the police are planning operations, including roadblocks and checkpoints, to target vehicles possibly linked to similar incidents in the past.

Erongo governor Neville Andre, who also serves as the chairperson of the Erongo Tourism Forum, has expressed his concern and well-wishes for the assaulted tourists.

“It is unfortunate to hear about the incident, and we are wishing the couple a speedy recovery,” he says, adding he wanted to pay them a visit, but they had left the coast for another destination as they continue their holiday in Namibia.

Andre emphasises the importance of tourists taking extra precautions, particularly when moving around at night.

“Our police structures will investigate this incident and will bring to book the culprits,” he says.

“We have beefed up security for our tourists, and we will strive for a crime-free environment in the tourism sector and the community at large,” he says.

Andre outlines the collaborative efforts involving the police, the Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch, and the Swakopmund Tourism Security Unit to ensure the safety of tourists.

“We will leave no stone unturned to chase criminals out of our communities,” he says.

Andre says the incidence of crime was “relatively calm” during the past festive season.

“We are committed to keeping our streets free for everyone, including our tourists,” he says, advising tourists to not move around with valuable items.

“Always inform your hotel of your movements,” he says.

Hospitality Association of Namibia chief executive Gitta Paetzold says it is alarming to see that stakeholders’ efforts “do not deter criminals”.

“Even of greater concern is the brutality applied. It is now high time for a strong, national statement, approach and action against crime, to safeguard Namibia’s image as a safe travel destination,” she says.

An Italian couple, while on their way to a local hotel, were accosted by three men who emerged from a black vehicle on Monday.

One of the assailants pushed the woman (61) and stole her wallet containing cash.

Her husband (56) was then forced into the vehicle, despite a hotel guard attempting to intervene.

He was later dropped off at Mondesa by the same vehicle, with a fake registration number, with injuries to his forehead, left eye and arm.

His wife did not sustain any injuries.

A case of grievous assault, kidnapping and robbery was registered.

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