Zoo Park 25 vindicated

13 October 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



The prosecutor-general, Martha Imalwa, has dropped all charges against the so-called Zoo Park 25 who were detained during protests against gender-based violence on Saturday.

The protest was triggered by the murder of 22-year-old Shannon Wasserfall, whose remains were found in a shallow grave at Walvis Bay last week.

The group protested over three days and were eventually arrested after clashes with the police.

Henry Shimitukeni, one of the lawyers representing the protesters, indicated that action may be taken against the police for unlawful detention.

“Some of our clients have indicated that they want to take steps but they still have to come back to us for full and final instruction,” he said. The spokesperson of the office of the judiciary, Ockert Jansen, could not comment on the nature of the charges yesterday as no charge sheets were available.

“This matter did not appear before the Windhoek Magistrate's Court at all. You have to hear from the PG's office what charges those were,” he said.

The PG was not available but Namibian Sun understands the two charges contemplated against the protesters included contravention of the Public Gathering Proclamation of 1989.

The second is related to the Covid-19 regulations, which prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.



Detention of journalists

Meanwhile, the police chief, Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, yesterday said that the media are respected stakeholders in the dissemination of police-related information.

Nevertheless, he added that the four journalists who were detained during the protest had acted outside the law and obstructed officers in executing their duties.

“The journalists in question were detained while they were in the midst of the unruly protesting crowd and could not provide immediate identification. They were cautioned and implored to stay clear of certain areas, however they did not comply,” he said.

Ndeitunga added that the Special Reserve Force had the responsibility to disperse the unruly crowd without negotiation and they did so to handle the situation and keep everyone safe.

According to him, the police are in favour of peaceful protest, but against unlawful and rowdy protests.

“Therefore, the protesters are urged to identify group leaders who should be consulted whenever the need arises,” he said.

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