1 November 2012

Namibia: Teachers Arrested

SOME teachers in the Oshana Region were arrested yesterday for picketing without permission from the police.

The teachers from the Oshakati, Ompundja and Onamutai circuits went on strike yesterday, joining their counterparts in the Khomas, Omaheke, Karas, Erongo, Ohangwena and Otjozondjupa regions.

The strike has been declared illegal by the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Oshana teachers first met at the Oshakati Independence Stadium but the police chased them away. They then set up camp in Othingo village on the Oshakati-Okahao main road, where some were arrested and the rest were ordered to leave.

Chief Inspector Karl Theron, who headed the operation, told The Namibian that they did not intend to charge the teachers, but would inform them that the strike is illegal and then discharge them.

The teachers have maintained that they will not return to work until their demands for salary increases and other benefits are met.

They also argued that if the Minister of Education, Abraham Iyambo, could be paid for six monthsÂ’ sick leave, they should be paid for the duration of the strike.

The Oshana teachers who went on strike yesterday are from schools such as Erundu Combined School, Oshakati West Primary School, Ehenye Combined School, Onamutai Combined School, Evululuko Secondary School, Mwadhina gwaNembenge Combined School, Iipumbu Senior Secondary School, Oshakati Senior Secondary School and Niitembu Primary School.

Meanwhile, in Windhoek, more than 500 teachers picketing at the offices of the Ministry of Education were informed by the police of the correct procedures to follow before picketing.

Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga said the teachers were told that they should have notified the police of the protest three days in advance, and notified the ministry that they would be handing over a petition.

The police stopped the teachers from marching to the Office of Prime Minister yesterday because of the illegality of the strike.

Iyambo on Monday refused to receive the petition from the teachers, saying that his ministry only dealt with recognised unions and not individuals.

The Namibian National Teachers Union (Nantu) has distanced itself from the strike.

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