Police use of teargas condemned

19 October 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Clashes between the Namibian Police and protesters against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) have drawn the ire of members of parliament who say the police's behavior must be addressed.

More than 25 young people, including two minors, were detained by the police a week ago.

Charges were subsequently dropped and the protesters have resumed their peaceful protests demanding safety for women and children.

Mike Kavekotora, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) leader and member of parliament, said the conduct of the police was unacceptable.

“When they came to parliament to hand over the petition, some of these youngsters were pushed off the stairs and teargassed. The same thing happened over the weekend and teargas was used to disperse them. The police are behaving like these people are crazy and they are in breach of everything that is happening in Namibia,” he said.



Koevoet memories

All People's Party (APP) president Ignatius Shixwameni said the police's conduct reminded him of the apartheid years when Koevoet soldiers cracked down on freedom fighters.

He said the youth should not be seen as 'violating the laws' but their right to protest must be respected.

“When I saw it, I said to myself, 'Are we back to the Koevoet days?' Teargassing our own people. Imprisoning our own people for having done no wrong. That must be condemned with the contempt it deserves. We must urge the Namibian police never to use force on innocent people,” he said.



Regrettable

The Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the government takes its responsibility for the public trust seriously.

She added that government is open to receiving Namibians who want to engage with them.

“I want to indicate that there were indeed interactions with government officials by some of the youth. What happened at the protest is regrettable and it is never our desire to have a situation like that,” she said.

Peter Katjavivi, the Speaker of the National Assembly, said the issue of SGBV is much bigger than politics and requires a united front.

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