Lawyer Kadhila Amoomo has expressed disappointment in the arrest of activists Michael Amushelelo, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Member of Parliament Inna Hengari during the national protest against unemployment.
He said his clients were arrested immediately after they assumed the onerous duty to explain and communicate the High Court order to fellow young people who were already gathered at the venue where the protest was supposed to take place in Windhoek.
“This was the most responsible thing to do, because the Court pronounced itself and someone had to inform the gathered unemployed youth,” he stated.
Amoomo said footage is available to demonstrate that the reason for the activists being at the initial meeting point was to articulate the outcome of the Court proceedings, in which Judge Eileen Rakow dismissed an application by Amushelelo seeking permission to protest on Namibia’s Independence Day.
The court’s decision came after Police Inspector General, Lieutenant General Joseph Shikongo, gave Amushelelo directives to reschedule their planned demonstration.
Amoomo claims the police were disappointed or surprised that the activists complied with the order because as soon as they left, the police pursued everyone, harassed them and arbitrarily arrested them. He accused the Namibian police of brutality.
Meanwhile, National Police Spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, issued a statement saying that the arrested trio defied the court order.
Shikwambi said the trio was charged with Contravening the Public Gathering Act 23 of 1989, Malicious damage to properties, Inciting Public Violence and Violation of Court of Order/Contempt of Court.
“The High Court has ruled in favour of the state, declaring that such a demonstration on 21 March 2023 will be illegal and in contempt of court. It so happened that despite the court ruling, a demonstration was held in Windhoek where the police dispersed the crowd. As such, DimbulukweniNuyoma and Michael Amushelelo were arrested,” Shikwambi added.
Amoomo further explained that constitutional rights are guaranteed automatically and that there should be no struggle.
He said his clients will appear in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court today.
“Although our rights are contained in the Namibian Constitution, it is clear that these rights won’t be handed to them on a silver platter and that we should continue to fight for our rights through protest, litigation, and political activities. If we are successful, it means the next generation won’t have the fight,” Amoomo stressed.
He also added that Windhoek based lawyer Messe Tjituriwill assist in representing the accused persons.
Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) President McHenry Venaani said the party has committed to paying bail and lawyers for its Member of Parliament, Hengari.
He said that the police ought to deal with real issues.
According to lawyer Amoomo, the right to protest can be located in Article 21 (1) (d) of the Namibian Constitution.
Amoomo said it finds meaning in the freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms.
“The public gathering proclamation of 1989 continues to haunt our democratic space. This is to be expected because the proclamation was never designed to function in a constitutional dispensation,” he stated.
He added that the proclamation was designed to combat apartheid programs and harass freedom fighters before independence.
Amoomo indicated yesterday that activists Nauyoma and Amushelelo were being detained at Seeis police holding cells outside Windhoek, while Hengari was detained at the Klein Windhoek Police Station.
“They are in good spirits and are determined to keep up the struggle against youth unemployment,” he said.