Women traders 'horsewhipped'

11 January 2019 | Local News

NamRights has alleged that security guards contracted by the Helao Nafidi town council are abusing female Angolan traders.

It has now asked the council to immediately stop these acts of abuse, which include traders being “horsewhipped”.

According to NamRights director Phil Ya Nangoloh, the female Angolan street vendors are often whipped by security guards, who also confiscate their commodities. The guards, he said, were being instructed by the town council.

Ya Nangoloh said in a letter addressed to Helao Nafidi mayor Eliaser Nghipangelwa that the Angolans are conducting business in Namibia in order to feed and care for themselves and their families, and that they should not be treated in such a way. “I am writing to express our deepest revulsion at certain disturbing reports of human rights abuses, allegedly perpetrated against largely poor Angolan women street vendors, many of who are carrying small babies on their backs,” Ya Nangoloh said in the letter.

“They are just selling basic commodities on the streets of Helao Nafidi, in order to feed and care for themselves and their families. However, they are now being harassed and often whipped with horsewhips and their commodities confiscated, allegedly by private security guard personnel, acting on the instructions of the town council.”

According to Ya Nangoloh it was the residents of Helao Nafidi who expressed their unhappiness about what was happening. He said police officers were among the complainants. Nghipangelwa said he was not aware of the allegations.

“I have not seen his letter and I am also not aware of such allegations. Not even the police have notified me or the town council about such abuse against Angolans,” Nghipangelwa said.

Ya Nangoloh, however, claimed Nghipangelwa was quite aware of the situation and was playing ignorant.

In his letter he advised the mayor that NamRights is ready to assist the council on best practices, when dealing with poor people.

“Your worship, we must act fairly and reasonably towards everyone in our society and comply with the Bill of Rights. An alternative humane and dignified way of conduct, in accordance with our Namibian Bill of Rights, must be pursued.

“Poor people are unable, not only to buy food to feed themselves and their families, but also to pay exorbitant rental fees at the designated open-market at Helao Nafidi. Thanks so much for taking immediate remedial steps… to ensure that the right to dignity of everyone is upheld in Helao Nafidi,” Ya Nangoloh wrote.

Helao Nafidi has been dealing with increasing numbers of Angolan traders that sell basic commodities and agricultural produce, especially at Oshikango.

Local vendors have also complained that they are finding it hard to make ends meet because of the illegal goods being smuggled into the country by their Angolan counterparts, who sell them cheaply.

ILENI NANDJATO

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