12 February 2013

Namibia: Colonial Law Prevents Pensioner Protest

Windhoek — A group of seventy pensioners, the majority of whom lost their houses through what they claim were illegal auctions, eviction orders, as well as warrants of ejection on Friday staged a short-lived demonstration in Independence Avenue.

The pensioners took to Independence Avenue along with representatives of the Namibia Home Owners Association under police escort to present a petition to local banks, the High Court and the Supreme Court to express their grievances. Their move was however stopped by a group of police officers, who presented them with a letter from the Chief Registrar of the High Court prohibiting them from demonstrating near the two courts.

The letter made reference to a piece of colonial legislation - the 'Demonstration in or near Court Buildings Prohibition Act 71 of 1982 - which "prohibits certain demonstrations and gatherings in or near court buildings."

The letter, which is dated February 07, 2013, indicates that neither the Judicial Service Commission nor the Judge President is prepared to receive any petition or any other document "so to be delivered and no other entity is to receive such a document on behalf of either."

However, staging demonstrations during weekends and public holidays is not prohibited, reads an attachment to the letter.

A representative of the Namibia Home Owners Association, Edwardt Xoagub, said the group took note of the letter and would consult and come up with a date on which to stage the demonstration as indicated in the attached documents that accompanied the letter from the Chief Registrar. "We will respond to the letter," Xoagub stressed, adding that the issue at hand is a national outcry since pensioners often lose their homes under dubious and unfair circumstances.

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