By Confidente Reporter
CHINESE embassy officials in Windhoek are reportedly angry with Namibia’s senior government officials for pulling no punches when they castigated Chinese nationals operating poaching syndicates in the country last week, Confidente has learnt.
Confidente is informed that the Chinese feel that Namibia has lately been undiplomatic when it publicly condemns Chinese nationals involved in poaching activities.
The country since 2015 has reportedly lost nearly 200 rhinos and elephants to poachers.
The latest move by the Namibian Police that has seen Chinese nationals also being searched thoroughly at police checkpoints, roadblocks and random stop and search operations has reportedly not gone down well with them as well. President Hage Geingob also last week condemned the poaching of the country’s wildlife saying the war against poachers should be intensified. “We condemn what is going on. We must intensify what is going on. It is unacceptable. Poaching, there must be inside jobs also. Chinese cannot come here and know everywhere to get the rhinos,” he said.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, Monday said Namibia was now frustrated with the behaviour of some Chinese nationals and will soon introduce laws to ensure that any Chinese national convicted of any poaching crime/s will never be allowed entry into the country. “We are frustrated. The Chinese embassy must reprimand its nationals to abide by the laws of the country (Namibia). We won’t tolerate the poaching of our wildlife. From now on we are going to make sure that any Chinese or any other foreign national convicted of poaching after serving their sentence or paying a fine imposed will be deported and we won’t allow them back, they become persona non-grata.
“It’s not a question of us not being diplomatic because they are the ones that started this and it’s too much now. That decision to search all Asians came out of frustration and it is reaping results because some have already been arrested with wildlife contraband hidden. This poaching of our wildlife has been going on all these years,” an unamused Shifeta said. Shifeta refuted reports that Namibia was merely targeting Chinese nationals without any reasonable grounds.
“It’s not a question of targeting them but it’s what the statistics prove that counts. We have to now procure sniffer dogs and put them at every port of entry because there we have also had several cases of our wildlife products being smuggled out of the country. We are very serious,” Shifeta added. Shifeta also revealed that out of the more than 35 local people arrested recently for poaching related crimes upon interrogation and further investigations by the police it came out that they were connected to the Chinese. “Namibians are being enticed to poach by some of these people. We are not saying all Chinese are bad. They are good Chinese people in this country but how do we know that the good are not bad as well?” Shifeta queried. Shifeta also said his ministry was now busy working with the ministries of Justice and Home Affairs to come up with a law that ensures that any foreign national convicted for poaching will never set foot in Namibia again.
“We want foreign nationals convicted for poaching deported and never allowed back in the country because we have realised that those that are fined go back to engage in the same thing again,” he said.
Inspector General of the Namibian police, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga echoed Shifeta’s sentiments adding that Namibia can’t be diplomatic to criminals.
“Our strong stance or harshness is not targeted to every Chinese national. We know that they are many law abiding Chinese nationals who are in the country but we also have to address their fellow kinsman who come to Namibia and poach our animals. If they are not happy, we are also not happy, we can’t be diplomatic or talk politics with criminals while they are finishing our animals. We are not directing our statements to law abiding citizens but criminals. We will never surrender and anyone who feels disturbed by our actions should stop poaching. We are not only talking to foreigners but Namibians as well whom a majority are those being arrested for such crimes,” Ndeitunga said.
Ndeitunga said a committee comprising of Chinese nationals and local enforcement agencies was being formed to work on bringing poaching to an end. “All Chinese are being searched now and innocent people are suffering because of this inconvenience to law abiding Chinese and Namibian people but we say enough is enough we have to take action and these searches now target everyone, they know no colour or nationality so the new measures we have taken apply to everyone Namibian or not.” Ndeitunga also took a swipe at locals whom he accused of poaching the country’s precious fauna for mere peanuts. “Namibians are more in numbers than the Chinese who go into game parks but Namibians are paid peanuts to destroy their own fauna so yes my harshness is towards criminals who are the enemies of peace, enemies of our fauna and enemies of progress. We are targeting those that are engaged in criminal activities.” Efforts to get comment from the Chinese embassy proved futile as a written request for an interview with Ambassador Qiu Xuejun sent to them nearly a week ago was never responded to.
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