Government gives in to #ShutItDown demands

14 October 2020 | Crime

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

The government has given in to various demands made by young – and mostly female - protesters who occupied the streets of Windhoek and other towns to condemn increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

The tipping point of the protests, which started on Thursday last week, was the discovery of Shannon Wasserfall’s remains in a shallow grave at Walvis Bay.

The remains were officially confirmed on Monday night be those of Wasserfall, whose death has landed her closest friend and godmother of her child, Azaan Madisia, behind bars.

Protesters marched to Wernhil Park, one of the main shopping centres in Windhoek, to shut it down and send a message that corporate Namibia has a duty in the fight against the violence.

Gender court

Reacting to the protesters, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said in a statement yesterday that one of the first responses would be the establishment of a court to deal specifically with cases of gender-based violence (GBV).

“The establishment of such courts has been agreed upon. Existing court infrastructure will be used in this regard, and where space is a constraint within the sector, arrangements will be made to use other available infrastructures,” said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

The Prime Minister said the government would also mobilise more financial resources towards fighting GBV.

“Government will continue to mobilise more financial and logistical resources to enable the law enforcement agencies to conduct more operations and patrols as part of crime prevention and SGBV across the country,” she said.

Better policing

The protesters had also called for a more visible police presence. Reacting to the demand, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said law enforcement agencies had already been mobilised.

The government would also properly capacitate the GBV Protection Unit of the Namibian Police, she promised.

“Government will ensure capacity in the GBV Unit. The Namibian Police will identify candidates to fill the vacancies at GBV Protection Units as a matter of urgency and train GBV investigators,” she said.

About 159 vacancies would need to be filled, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

“The recruitment and training of personnel in the areas of biological trace identification is prioritised starting this financial year,” she added.

According to Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the prevalence of GBV is worrisome and unacceptable.

“We share in the repagination of the Namibian public at the situation of GBV and are in full agreement with the public that this situation cannot be allowed to continue. We assure the Namibian people that the measures announced as requested for implementation will be implemented with expediency and commitment,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

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