The remains in the dunes

The recent grisly discovery of human remains in a shallow grave at Walvis Bay near the C14 roadblock is a tragedy. This sad situation is one of many involving the death, rape, beating, and disappearances of young women in Namibia. When will we value women and girls enough to stop preying on them?

While an official DNA test on the remains in the dunes must be done to legally make the identification, it has been widely speculated that Shannon Wasserfall, missing since April 10th, has now been found.

The family and numerous friends of Shannon were actively reminding the nation about Shannon’s disappearance since the day she went missing. Shannon’s name was on many minds for several months, leading to this sad finding.

It is likely that the constant reminders about the missing young woman moved someone who knew the truth to do the right thing. It makes the well-known point that others, not just the one directly responsible for what may have happened, knows the full story.

The people who have evidence want to skulk along with their lives pretending that nothing happened.

In every criminal situation there are those who know the truth and are choosing silence. The police have made this point many times. Investigating crimes with no hard evidence, no witnesses, and no one giving information is impossible. The lack of results is predictable in these cases.

We can fill this editorial with the names of missing girls and women all over Namibia who have yet to be found or who have been found dead. No one has been brought to justice for these crimes. We still mourn Magdalena Stoffels, Avihe Cheryl Ujaha or the unknown woman whose body parts were discarded along the B1 road nearly 15 years ago.

In all these cases and others, someone knows something and is saying nothing. Many times, would-be witnesses may not know the value of what they know. A discarded comment by someone or a ‘sense’ when a certain person came around that hinted that something wasn’t right are clues. But, they aren’t recognized as such.

It is very hard to believe that there was no one who saw a single thing that fateful day, that night, or the day after. Someone dug that grave, maybe two people. How was it dug out, when? Who drove by and saw lights in the dunes and has not made a connection to a horrible night in April? It took months for the text giving the location to arrive. And yet, someone knew all along.

People stand aside in Namibia far too often and watch the show. They only get involved if it is their family, their friend or lends them some value. They will gasp with horror amongst themselves when they see a crime or someone in need. Then, they film the attack for social media, but do nothing to jail the culprit.

The biblical parable of the Good Samaritan does not apply well in Namibia. Our people would whip out their cell phones and film the thieves beating up the man and then rush to post it and make funny memes.

Namibians must enter the new normal in 2021 with power. Women and girls must get rid of the decades-old naïve misconception that Namibia is a peaceful, safe place to walk about at will, unarmed and unescorted. It is not. Let’s stop that lie right now.

Women and girls get pressured to do Olufuko to ‘learn’ how to be a wife, where is the festival for the young boys to ‘learn’ how to not rape, beat, or kill women?

Until this country changes institutionally, culturally, traditionally and systematically, the predators amongst us roam free. Those who know the evil that men do are quiet because the bad guy is their breadwinner, brother, father, nephew, baby-daddy, or husband.

We must empower women and girls by any means necessary. Otherwise, we will continue to dig them up in the dunes, take them out of trash cans in parts or find them murdered under bridges.

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