Police Recruiting Koevoet, SWAPO Fighters
WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) _ Police are recruiting 2,000 additional officers for the period leading up to independence, and former rebels and anti-insurgency police are welcome to apply, a police official said Friday.
Maj. Gen. Piet Fouche, acting commissioner of the South-West African police, said the main reasons for the recruitment drive were an increase in petty crime and the need to protect political candidates prior to the Nov. 7-11 pre-independence elections.
The United Nations is supervising the elections, which will end South Africa’s 74-year rule of Namibia.
At the insistence of the United Nations, the Namibian administrator- general, Louis Pienaar, last month ordered that the anti-guerrilla police unit Koevoet be disbanded.
Koevoet means ″crowbar″ in the Afrikaans language. The 1,500-member force fought the South-West Africa People’s Organization, the guerrilla group that for 23 years tried to drive South Africa from the territory. Koevoet was accused of atrocities in northern Namibia.
Fouche said former Koevoet members as well as SWAPO guerrillas who have returned from exile to vote for a constitutional assembly next month are welcome to join the police force. Applicants with ″prior experience″ could be deployed within two weeks, he said.
He said the recruitment drive was not an attempt to get around the U.N. demand that Koevoet be disbanded.
SWAPO leaders have said that after independence, soldiers who fought on both sides will have to be reintegrated into a new army and police force, but they also have insisted that Koevoet men be excluded during the election period.
SWAPO is expected to win the most votes in the balloting.