March against NDF brutality

03 May 2019 | Crime

JANA-MARI SMITH



A peaceful demonstration against unprovoked assaults of civilians by Namibian soldiers during joint crime-prevention operations over the past weeks will begin at noon today in Windhoek.

Organisers of the peaceful march say it is aimed at making sure the “institutions that are meant to protect the people are doing exactly that.”

One of the organisers, Kaveto Tjatjara, yesterday said “Operation Hornkranz has been hurting and not helping Namibian youth. Join us in a peaceful demonstration against the NDF assaults on innocent civilians.”

Tjatjara is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumnus alongside Luise Mwanyangapo. Mwanyangapo sustained serious injuries, including a cracked skull, when she was assaulted by NDF soldiers during an Operation Hornkranz raid on a bar in Katutura on Saturday night.

Several other civilians reported similar assaults by members of the Hornkranz operations.

Tjatjara told Namibian Sun the march aimed to highlight abuses against civilians.

“In a democracy, it is important for the people to demand, to raise our voices and to hold them accountable.”

He said instead of abusing people, the NDF is supposed to protect people.

The march will start at noon at the Sanlam Building in Independence Avenue and then proceed to Snyman Circle.

Brutality

Operation Hornkranz was launched in December last year by President Hage Geingob.

In recent weeks, several reports of heavy-handed and aggressive tactics during Hornkranz operations have emerged, especially at the hands of the NDF soldiers who reinforced the Namibian police, City Police and Namibia Correctional Service officers forming part of the patrols.

On Tuesday, the Peoples Litigation Centre (LPC), a social justice centre launched by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement, condemned the “ever-increasing” reports of violence perpetrated by the NDF and police against civilians.

The centre called on President Hage Geingob, the inspector-general of the Namibian police and the chief of the defence force “to call off the continued joint operations between the Namibian police and the defence force.”

The LPC said although efforts should be made to combat crime, “it is our resolve that the rule of law should be respected by all, the security cluster and civilians alike”.

The justice centre underlined that excessive force by security forces is not new, even in post-independence Namibia.

It referred to the fatal assault of 17-year-old Mandela Ramakhutla by three City Police officers in 2013.

The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) on Tuesday released a statement urging the defence force and police chiefs to address the issue and provide feedback to the public.

“We ask that government seriously address these issues lest we return to that sordid part of our history where institutionalised violence was the order of the day. There is no place for this lawless behaviour in an independent Namibia,” the LAC stated.

Late on Tuesday, State House issued a statement confirming the Geingob had met with “the top brass of the ministry of defence, ministry of safety and security, Namibian police and Namibia Defence Force to be briefed on the latest developments” and to ascertain the veracity of the reported assaults.

The presidency confirmed that an investigation into the claims would be conducted and the necessary actions taken against guilty parties.

Further, the president urged citizens to press charges if they were assaulted by the army or police.