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Fight crime, not trees

Fight crime, not trees
Total removal of vegetation behind Elim School Khomasdal. Erosion will take place with heavy rain.

Total removal of vegetation behind Elim School Khomasdal. Erosion will take place with heavy rain.

Total removal of vegetation behind Elim School Khomasdal. Erosion will take place with heavy rain.

Total removal of vegetation behind Elim School Khomasdal. Erosion will take place with heavy rain.

The murder of people in riverbeds, especially women and children, is deplorable, said the Botanical Society of Namibia in an open letter to various ministers and to the City of Windhoek.
The Botanical Society argues that overgrown riverbeds where bushes of all sorts run amok without proper control and maintenance, provides an ideal hiding ground for criminals. The innocent members of society then has to bear the brunt of the crimes.
The letter was sent last week addressed to the Minister of Safety and Security, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, the Directorate of Forestry, the Environmental Management Department of the City of Windhoek, the Mayor of Windhoek, and to both councillors and ratepayers of all other local authorities. “Forestry Ordinance Act No 37 of 1952, the Forestry Act No 72 of 1968 and Nature Conservation Ordinance No.4 of 1975 prohibit the destruction of vegetation along river courses. The reason for this is to prevent erosion and flooding, along with other environmental issues of importance. Due to climate change we have to expect unusual periods of drought but also unusually heavy downpours occasionally. Denuded of vegetation along their banks, our rivers would be transformed into deep gullies by such downpours and flood lower lying areas causing loss of property, injury and death to people living there. Vegetation in and along rivers prevents water from rushing along rapidly. Instead it is slowed down and has time to sink into the soil and to replenish our underground water resources, which are crucially important,” said Luise Hoffmann of the Botanical Society.
She added,“The looming water shortage will be with us for many years and we do not know if there will be enough water to plant trees in future but we need trees to provide shade for people to sit in, some trees provide food, their roots stabilize the soil and prevent too much dust from being blown around, trees provide oxygen for us to breathe. Trees take at least 10 to 20 years to grow to a reasonable size. Therefore we need to spare and protect as many trees as possible.”
Through this the Botanical Society has suggested the removal of low scrub and bushes behind which criminals might hide, but spare all grass and bigger trees and clear only the lower branches of these bigger trees to improve visibility.
“Law enforcement regarding alcohol abuse, carrying of weapons should be much stricter. Once caught, criminals should be treated in such a way as to prevent them from repeating their criminal deeds. Is it fair to protect only the rights of the criminal [by granting bail] without looking to the rights of the victims or their families, their right to life and safety?” she added. “Improve education, train teachers and parents to raise children with a positive self image and a sound sense of responsibility. A man with sound self confidence will not easily overreact and kill a girlfriend out of jealousy, as so often happens. Men treat girls and women with respect! They are the mothers of your children – beaten and abused women will not easily raise healthy and well balanced children!” Hoffmann stressed.
Furthermore she noted that trees are not the problem – people are. “We need a safe environment, yes, but will ripping all vegetation off every open area really solve the problem? Concentrate on changing the attitude of people instead of denuding the environment,” she added.
“We therefore appeal to the Minster of Safety and Security to address the real problem of crime – criminals – instead of destroying the vegetation in which the act is committed. And we appeal to the Honourable Minister of Environment and Tourism to prevent undue damage to the environment,” she concluded.

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