Activists shutdown China Town …..NEFF president, 7 others to spend weekend in jail

Obrein Simasiku

Eight suspects, including the president of Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) Epaphras Mwiikilongo, and his commissar Michael Amushelelo will spend the rest of the weekend in police custody after their arrest during a demonstration at China Town this morning.
Others includes, AR activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Amushelelo’s wife Juliata.

This is because the police failed to deliver their dockets to court in time for processing and prosecution. Their legal representatives pitched up at the Katutura Magistrate’s court to apply for their bail. “They can no longer appear today because we have not received the docket so that we could formulate a charge sheet and all enter the details into the system. Therefore, on Monday they will still appear on a 48-hour basis, this is so because weekends are not counted,” said a court official at 16h35.

Friends, family and sympathisers gathered outside the court hoping the accused will appear and be released on bail.
Initially the suspects were supposed to be released on a warning, after the police agreed following deliberations with NEFF and Affirmative Repositioning Movement, but opted for the suspects to appear in court – a move which consequently resulted in them spending the weekend away from home in jail. “We had meetings with the police delegation, and resolved to release them but for fear of the unknown, we decided they [suspects] should appear in court,” said AR spokesperson Simon Amunime briefly to the crowd that gathered at the Windhoek Police Station.

At China Town this morning, teargas and bullets were fired as more people were joining the demonstration to shutdown Chinese businesses in protest against the recent burning of confiscated counterfeit products worth N$5 million from the public, as well as condemning the arrest of Namibia Economic Freedom Fighter (NEFF) member, Michael Amushelelo who handed himself to the police early morning.

A pregnant woman, two journalists and an Engen service station employee, were some those struck by rubber bullets, while Mwiikilongo sustained injuries on his arm where he was hit.
They had to be rushed to hospital by an emergency ambulance. The expectant mother is an employee at one of the Chinese shops.
‘’The president is fine and in a stable condition, although he sustained injuries on his arm where he was shot,’’ said NEFF deputy Kalimbo Iipumbu.

The situation turned violent as hundreds of people who gathered at the industrial area, refused to disperse which prompted the police to use force by firing teargas and rubber bullets. The police’s reaction, was also due to threats made on social media with intention to burn down shops.
All roads leading into and out of China Town is blocked now blocked by armed security forces, in an attempt to protect property and lives, after some of the demonstrators threatened to burn down the place.
Amushelelo handed himself over to the Windhoek police station around 07h00 after the Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga ordered that he be arrested, following his self-styled activism of bagging business places alleged to be mistreating and underpaying workers. The police chief said Amushelelo be hunted down and arrested. This is after, the NEFF Commissar for Economic Development, burst into various Chinese-owned shops confronting them regarding employee remunerations and welfare. Thereafter he threatened to shutdown the whole China Town, alleging that they are being favoured by government, though they are selling products that are allegedly not genuine.

This comes, after the Namibia Revenue Agency (NAMRA) earlier this week burned goods worth N$5 million, which were confiscated by custom officials because they are counterfeit.

Meanwhile, police Deputy Inspector General Joseph Shikongo yesterday, said the police had to use minimum force because of the stiff resistance from the demonstrators, who were refusing to disperse after being ordered, because the gathering was illegal and not sanctioned by the authorities.

“I understand some people were victims of teargas, it’s unfortunate, but we needed to react accordingly,” said Shikonog, indicating that he needed a detailed report on what exactly transpired, the number of people arrested and those injured.
On the issue of the pregnant woman who was caught in crossfire, Shikongo said, “What was she doing in a group that is going to burn a building. Threats were made on social media that buildings will be burned down, which is very serious,” he said.

The angry crowd described Amushelelo’s arrest and the violent reaction of the police as unjust. “We were not armed, why would they beat and shoot innocent people? This is not fair at all as we are being victimised at all front. First they confiscated and burned our items, now when we speak up we are beaten and arrested,” said Megameno Amupanda, whose sister is among those who were apprehended.

“I will not leave this place until they release and bring my sister back, we did nothing wrong. If we can’t be fairly treated, then no business will take place here. When there is crime, police are no-where to be seen, but when people try to do conduct peaceful production matters, all of a sudden they have vehicles just come and assault us,” she fumed, as hundred others congregated in the vicinity.

Anger and agitation hanged in the air, as the environment remained hostile. “We do not want Chinese anymore in Namibia, we are tired as they are being favoured too much, it’s more like we natives are the foreigners, Chinese must pack and go,” said a young woman, who further claimed her consignment was in the goods that were confiscated and destroyed.

“Where am I going to find the money to repay my customers. They paid 50 percent for the goods I ordered, then now its wasted,” she lamented.


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