- Breaking news: A severe drought countrywide has prompted President Pohamba to declare a state of emergency.
Police brutality has no place in Namibia
This week has been extraordinary. It was characterised by ugly episodes - shebeen closures, struggle kids and the accident they were involved in - are but just some of the notable happenings.
Everyone, including human right groups across the country, has been talking about these events but no significant mention was made about physical assaults by the police on ‘struggle kids’ who camped at the Swapo headquarters.
Newspaper and television images seen this week brought back nasty memories of police brutality in colonial Namibia and neighbouring South Africa.
They reminded one of the events around the end of the Old Location when black people where moved to Katutura in 1959.
It resurrects the traumatic memories of June 1976 when roughly 700 students were killed and another 4000 were injured at the hands of the police when students protested against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in South Africa.
The post-independence Namibian Police was seen using unreasonable force, exceeding the necessary steps needed to accomplish a lawful removing of struggle kids from the ruling party’s office.
The implications are far-reaching because a senior police official, Chief Inspector Hofni Kandjimi, declared at the scene that President Hifikepunye Pohamba had ordered that the ‘kids’ be removed.
Of course there is no way that President Pohamba would have ordered Kandjimi and his forces to physically assault the protesting youth, but his name is now linked to these nasty events.
Excessive force, some of it used on breastfeeding mothers who posed no threat whatsoever, was definitely not necessary and in gross violation of human rights.
In helmets and boots, police agents were filmed and photographed throttling the demonstrators.
Their infant babies looked on as their mothers got pushed around and kicked like dogs. Dogs of a century ago probably, because in modern Namibia, such domestic animals are protected by the constitution.
What is worrying is that nobody is saying anything about it. From State House to Liberty Center the silence is deafening.
Namibians are, under the country’s constitution, allowed to express their opinions. We agree that claims of trespassing by these young people do hold water, but let’s not forget that the premises in question belong to the governing party.
In a normal world, their decision to camp at the party headquarters was nothing extraordinary.
It should have therefore not have led to such brutality.