… Kavango East police commander encourages young girls to join the force
GROWING up, Commissioner Johanna Ngondo (JN) admired uniformed police officers, so it came as no surprise when she joined the Namibian Police Force in 2000.
After completing her training, she rose through the force’s ranks, and is now Kavango East regional commander.
Although she is faced with a mammoth task, Ngondo is determined to work hard to rid her region of crime.
In an interview with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN), Ngondo spoke about her career and spending quality time with her family.
MN: Who is Johanna Ndahafa Ngondo?
JN: Johanna Ndahafa Ngondo was born in Ekuli village in the 1970s. I am a mixture of Kwangali and Mbukushu. I started my pre-primary schooling at Mbambi Kindergarten and primary education at Rundu Junior and Senior Primary School in Rundu, while my secondary schooling took place at Rundu Senior Secondary School, where I also completed my Grade 12 in 1996. In 1997, I was admitted at the Academy of Learning, where I did a diploma course in Computer Work. In 1998, I started working at the then Ministry of Prisons. It is now known as the Department of Correctional Service within the Ministry of Safety and Security. I am married and blessed with four beautiful children – two boys and two girls.
MN: Briefly tell us about your upbringing.
JN: I am a daughter to Mr Gerhard Kashamba and Mrs Elisabeth Sihako Ngondo; the firstborn from both sides. However, I was brought up by my grandparents. They were very strict and Godly parents. With their teachings, they instilled good values in me, which makes me not to look down on other people, irrespective of who they are. They showered me with love and never spoiled me. This helped me to be who I am today, as they nurtured me to be a self-sustainable person.
MN: Tell us about your career in the police force?
JN: I joined the Namibian Police Force in March 2000, as a cadet constable, performing duties as a secretary to the deputy inspector-general for operations. The same year I was transferred to the Tsumeb Police Station. In August 2001, I went to the Ondangwa Police Training College, which is now the Ruben Danger Ashipala Police Training Centre. It was difficult and at some point I thought of giving up. However, my grandmother told me that if I left than I should find a husband to marry, since she could not afford to care for my son and I. This made me think twice, and realised that I have to complete what I started.
After training, I was redeployed back to the Khomas region, at Hosea Kutako International Airport Police Station, to serve as a charge office member, and at times I worked at the Aviation Security Sub-Division.
In 2007 I was transferred to Pius Joseph Kaundu Police Training Centre as an administrator and was promoted to the rank of a sergeant (class 2), which I wholeheartedly value, as that was the beginning of my progression through the ranks.
In 2008, I was again transferred to the national headquarters, to the Human Resources Division, where I served in the Recruitment Office Sub-Division as a recruitment officer, the same time I was a secretary to the head of human resources directorate. I was promoted from sergeant (class 2) to warrant officer (class 2) in October 2008. In 2010, positions were advertised at the Recruitment Sub-Division. I applied for the position of the Head of Internal Advertisement Desk, and I was selected, appointed and promoted to the rank of warrant officer (class 1).
In 2013 I was promoted to the rank of inspector, which was a God-given gift on my birthday on 2 April. In the same year in October, I was one of the female police officers whom the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Force, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, nominated to go to the Zimbabwe police in Harare, to attend a Senior Management Strategic Development Programme, which was aimed at nurturing the attendees, in preparation for other responsibilities. On 10 January 2014, a press conference was held by Ndeitunga, to inform the nation about the promotion of three officers. I was one of them.
A lot of criticism was received from various aggrieved members of the Namibian Police Force, airing their views in the print media, but never did it draw my attention from the task assigned to me. I keep up my boldness and confidence towards achieving my goal as a passionate young female police officer, who wants to add value to the Namibian Police Force, by ensuring that the mandate of the Namibian Police Force is fulfilled.
MN: What triggered your interest to join the force?
JN: I was inspired by their dress code and how stunning they looked when the uniform was put on, without knowing what the whole package of the Namibian Police Force entails. I also wanted to make an impact within the community. Since few careers are as rewarding as law enforcement. I could say that police officers spend their time protecting and serving their local communities, as they are often motivated by working for something greater than themselves, and at the end of the each day, they realise that their time and talents are being well-spent.
MN: As regional commander, what is a typical day like for you?
JN: As a regional commander, I command five police stations, namely Rundu, Divundu, Ndiyona, Mukwe and Omega 1, as well as 14 police posts and outposts. This brings a range of emotions. It can leave you feeling satisfied, rewarded, sad, disgruntled, and lonely, as well as fulfilled. I can further say that every day has its own challenges, which one never expects. But all in all, every day gives me a desire to learn new things and to be committed as never before, in serving my community and the country at large.
MN: What are the challenges facing the region and how best do you handle them?
JN: I would say that the community is not 100 percent forthcoming with information related to crimes committed among them. Traditional policing, which I can say is more reactive and waits for the community to come to us and report crime, rather than the police going out into the community, is a barrier that can be broken down. Therefore, to ensure a safer environment, the police in the region are continuously educating the community to work hand in hand with the Namibian Police Force, so that we can minimise criminal activities, although these activities are not at an alarming stage.
MN: What are some of your career’s highlights and lowlights?
JN: I rose through the ranks after completing my police training. Currently I’m busy pursuing my Bachelor of Business Administration studies with the Southern Business School in Namibia. I am in my second semester. Apart from the course and my qualifications obtained, there are also some achievements in my current position as the regional commander of Kavango East. Since I assumed my duties in 2014, I have been leading several operations and launched crime awareness campaigns, including the general and presidential elections campaign during November 2014, as the gold commander, Operation Elephant Tusk and in March 2017, the 27 Independence Day celebrations were held in Rundu, where I spearheaded the operation as the gold commander. Everything went well, without any serious crimes or incidents being recorded during the period. In brief, all operations I have mentioned above yielded positive results in combating crime. My downside, I will say, is that it is difficult to complete your studies at this level, due to a lot of responsibilities, which one cannot overlook, as you are entrusted to safeguard the nation. But nevertheless, as an energetic young dynamic leader, who is patriotic to her country and loyal to the organisation I serve, I’m determine to complete the race I have started, since I am not a person who gives up easily. I strive to achieve the unachievable.
MN: What advice will you give young girls, who want to join the police force?
JN: I would advise that joining a police force is not a bed of roses, but is a life commitment that one has to endure, because in most cases many people regard Nampol as a security entity, but it is a total national obligation to serve the community with politeness and caring (serving mankind and helping people). I would further like to advice that patience and loyalty should be part of your character, for you to enjoy your work, while at the same time enjoying your salary. Therefore, I am encouraging girls who are about to complete their Grade 12 and tertiary education to take up the career of becoming police officers, as it is a rewarding and challenging career.
MN: How do you juggle your role as a professional and family woman?
JN: I would say, on paper, anyone with enough drive and determination can become a police officer, for good or bad. Similarly, one can also become a parent. However, to do both takes something extra.
Being a professional and a family woman takes a sacrificial decision, as one may lose your family in the process, but nevertheless I always find ways to balance my life as a professional and family woman.
One thing I know for sure, all I am doing is for the betterment of the community and my family are also aware of this, as they are supportive throughout. I perform my duties in good faith for nation and for the wellbeing of my family, and thus they understand my profession of being a police officer.
MN: What do you do for a little fun?
JN: When my schedule is free, I make time to go to church for my spiritual upliftment. I also spend quality time with my family members and my friends. Sometimes I watch movies to relax my mind
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