Amushelelo, Nauyoma and Hengari arrested after unemployment protest

Stefanus Nashama

The police yesterday arrested Social Activists Michael Amushelelo, Dimbulukweni Nauyoma and Popular Democratic Movement Member of Parliament, Inna Hengari after they organized a national protest against youth unemployment.

Hundreds of young protesters were ordered by the police to disperse while protesting yesterday at Katutura Youth Centre. According to Amushelelo’s wife, Julieta, the group was on their way home when police officers approached them and arrested Amushelelo and Nauyoma. She also alleged that police officers took away their car keys.

Hengari was detained at the Klein Windhoek Police Station, a facility primarily for female inmates, while Amushelelo and Nauyoma were detained at the Otjomuise Police Station.

Another group of protesters confirmed that the three were arrested on their way back home, while obeying the dispersal order from the police.

Some protesters expressed their disappointment with the Namibian police, saying the police should stop being used to arrest innocent people and practicing apartheid laws.

The arrest of the three follows after High Court Judge, Eileen Rakow, dismissed an urgent interim interdict filed by Amushelelo to proceed with the peaceful national protest against unemployment yesterday morning.

According to Judge Rakow, the application was not an urgent matter, and the protesters should reschedule the protest for another day.

Hengari has since confirmed that the protest will happen this coming Friday.

This publication understands that on 17 March, police Inspector General Joseph Shikongo wrote to activist Amushelelo directing him to reschedule a nationwide protest on unemployment, planned for 21 March for “security reasons”.

“Taking into consideration the national security interests and the fact the intended peaceful demonstration is to take place 21 March 2023, which is Independence Day, the inspector general has reason to believe that the intended peaceful demonstration may cause feelings of hostility,” the letter reads.

“Under the powers vested in the inspector general of police in terms of section 3 of the Public Gatherings Proclamation, you are hereby directed to reschedule such intended peaceful demonstration to any date after the commemoration of the national Independence Day,” the letter further reads.

On Monday, police national spokesperson, Kauna Shikwambi, rejected to comment on the protest, saying the police has pronounced itself on the matter.

Yesterday, Windhoek Lawyer, Kadhila Amoomo confirmed the arrest of the three protesters, saying it was clearly an unlawful and arbitrary arrest.

“My client respects the outcome of the court ruling. In doing that they were to explain to other young people and have them dispersed for another day,” Amoomo said.

He stated the police required everyone to disperse, and his clients communicated this message, adding that footage is available for the whole world to see.

“As lawyers, we will be assisting them,” Amoomo said.

On Monday, a day before Independence Celebration, Amushelelo indicated that the protest would go ahead because they had followed all the legal procedures.

“The police are just following orders from corrupt politicians who are trying to ensure that they do not disturb their Greek Salad,” Amushelelo said.

Last week Thursday, he said people should understand that the police do not have the authority to disallow any protest action.

Amushelelo also indicated that after handing over the unemployed youth’s petition, the protestors would give the government a one-month deadline to respond.

The activist pointed out that the independence of Namibia is for all Namibians, and every single citizen should be able to enjoy the fruits of the country’s prosperity.

“We want to see what the government is doing about the unemployment issue in Namibia. Unemployment has become a crisis in Namibia and has made life so difficult for other people who are unemployed. Therefore, we are going to express our democratic right on 21 March,” Amushelelo stated last week.

Professor Joseph Diescho commented on the court’s dismissal of Amushelelo’s urgent application, asking on what basis a judge denies citizens the right to have a peaceful demonstration. “This right is protected by the law,” said Diescho.

Human rights Lawyer, Norman Tjombe said although it is possible that police Inspector-General Joseph Shikongo can impose conditions on a public gathering, he cannot prohibit a demonstration.

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