They 'disrespected authority'

Nawatiseb insists Henties confrontation was racist

31 December 2019 | Crime

Information and communication technology deputy minister Engel Nawatiseb says the group of white people that confronted him recently at Henties Bay disrespected government by opening the doors of his official Mercedes-Benz where he had loaded a box of fish.

The fact that a white man disrespectfully and forcefully opened the door of the vehicle in the manner that they did amounted to racism, Nawatiseb insists.

According to him, white bystanders who had confronted him at a local restaurant at the coastal town were not only racist but disrespected government as an authority that owns the car.

“If an ordinary citizen sees GRN vehicle they know it represents government. That is the image and brand of government, no other ordinary car is branded GRN,” he told Namibian Sun yesterday.

“It is government that they are disrespecting. How do you have the audacity to go and open the government vehicle, do you know who is inside the car? It is a sign of total disrespect towards government and authority,” the former journalist said.

The incident has divided public opinion, with some saying Nawatiseb was confronted for using the official vehicle to pick up fish from the shot while he is on holiday.

Others feel he was subjected to racially-motivated humiliation, which was deliberately caught on camera.

Asked why he sees the confrontation as racist and not simply a protest against perceived abuse of a government vehicle, Nawatiseb said it was racism because “it was a white man who opened a black man's car.”

He added that the incident was preceded by racist slurs hurled at him, including that “you black people are abusing government vehicle in this way.”

In the video, a white man is seen saying: “Let me open for you. Here [pointing to a box full of fish], thank you very much, thank you very much.”

In the background an identified woman remarked: “Our tax money. Our tax money, yes.”

Nawatiseb yesterday said he was not against white people in general and had many white friends.















He insists that the group not only disrespected him but also posed a threat to his life.

“There were drunk people that threatened my life. I was walking towards the car to go to the police to report them but they stopped me in my tracks by forcefully intimidating and harassing me, my life was at risk. I do not know those people,” he said.

Nawatiseb declined to comment on whether he had received permission from the Ministry of Works and Transport to use the vehicle during the festive season.

Asked why he preferred to use a government vehicle instead of his own private car while on leave, the minister replied: “Am I not entitled to use a government car? I do not want to answer that question first check with the Ministry of Works and Transport then you can come back and I will answer that.”

Bad memories

In a letter to the police in which he requested for police protection, Nawatiseb said he endured a very bad experience because the oppression of black people by white people was still fresh in his mind.

He also asked the authorities to take the matter seriously because black people were tired of oppression.

[email protected]





JEMIMA BEUKES

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