Don't insult anyone, young or old

18 February 2020 | Opinion

Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga was at the centre of a storm all weekend for remarks he made that he would arrest young people hurling insults at the country's leaders.

Legitimate questions that have sprung up in retaliation are, for example: Why can't the police arrest those insulting anyone, and not just leaders?

On our show, The Evening Review, last night, Ndeitunga tried to pour cold water over his remarks by stating that generally, he is not just out to protect leaders but anyone who suffers injury to their dignity because of insults.

For a long time, political leaders have been treated as a special breed in front of which everyone must crawl in submission.

While police have a statutory and national obligation to defend and protect political leaders, such duty must not come at the expense of the protection of ordinary citizens.

In Namibia, we have catapulted leaders into an imaginary world where they are made to feel that they are more human than the rest of the citizenry. This can't be further from the truth.

While police have no obligation to set up guard rooms at the homes of ordinary citizens where they spend the night watching out for potential intruders, they must still spare a thought for the ordinary man walking the dusty streets of DRC in Swakopmund or Epako in Gobabis.

Insults, whomever they are hurled at, are painful in equal measure. They do not hurt more when directed at members of Parliament, Cabinet or other bodies of authority.

We would fully agree with Ndeitunga when he calls for an end to insults directed at anyone and not only political leaders, which seemed to have been his most recent preoccupation.

For clearer context, it is also important that police define what constitutes insults. Sometimes freedom of expression, when said with a strong tone, may also be seen as insult in some African confinements, but not in others.

Of course freedom of expression should not border on insults and the denigration of the dignity of others – leaders or not.

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