Gender Based Violence (GBV) protestors said that they are still demanding that a state of emergency be declared over GBV in the country, but will study what the “threat to humanity” government pronouncement entails.
This comes as the Cabinet on 23 October, approved that government pronounces GBV as a threat to humanity and that Prime Minister, Saara Kuugongelwa should issue a Parliamentary Statement to that effect. This declaration would be instead of the proposed declaration of the State of Emergency.
As part of the list of demands in a protest petition to government earlier this month, which included that Gender Minister, Doreen Sioka resigns, GBV activists also demanded that government should declare GBV a state of emergency.
In light of the new Cabinet decision to pronounce GBV as “a threat to humanity” instead, one of the organizers of the #Shutitalldown demonstrations, Ndiilo Nthengwe told Windhoek Observer that they need to discuss what that actually means on the ground.
“Our position is that we are still calling for a state of emergency. But our assumption is that with the upcoming local and regional authority elections, the state of emergency might not be possible now. But we need to know what does “threat to humanity” mean? Does it carry the same weight? What are the implementation structures?”
Cabinet also approved that law enforcement agencies enhance regular patrols in all regions, and that members of the public should be sensitized to render assistance and provide vital information to the law enforcement agencies in the fight against GBV.
Nthengwe, however, said that the police will also need to be sensitized on GBV issues.
“It’s not that more patrols are needed, the existing officers need to be sensitized and trained on how to deal with the GBV issues. If they don’t have that level of [concern or] sensitivity then it defeats the purpose.”
ICT Minister Peya Mushelenga revealed that the ministries of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Home Affairs and Immigration, Safety and Security have also been directed to strengthen the capacity of the Gender Based Violence and Forensic Units to deal with GBV cases.
This comes as the identification of human remains that were found in Walvis Bay earlier this month and have now been identified via finger print matches to be those of Shannon Wasserfall, were delayed due to forensic equipment being moved.
“Cabinet directed all Offices/Ministries/Agencies (0/M/As) to implement the recommendations of the 2nd National GBV Conference,” said Mushelenga.
He added, “Cabinet approved the promotion of neighbourhood watch and community network policing, as part of the social responsibility by all Namibians. Cabinet endorsed the proposed measures contained in the Matrix attached to the Agenda Memorandum and directed the affected 0/M/As to expedite implementation of the measures to curb GBV.”
Progress on the implementation of these measures will be reported to the Gender Advisory Council, coordinated by the Gender Ministry and chaired by the Prime Minister.