28 August 2014

Namibia: PM Urges Calm After Killing of 'Exile Kid'

Photo: New Era
Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob has called on the nation to remain calm following the deadly shooting.

Windhoek — Prime Minister Hage Geingob has called on the nation to remain calm following the deadly shooting of a demonstrating 'struggle kid' near the Swapo Party headquarters yesterday.

Geingob described the killing as "tragic and regrettable", but said the incident must help bring Namibians closer to one another to confront challenges facing the nation.

The prime minister delivered a speech in parliament yesterday in which he urged the demonstrating group to return to their base.

He warned that anarchy would not be tolerated in the country, alleging that the group was being used by certain individuals for political reasons.

The protracted row between the police and the 'struggle kids' led to the death of a 26-year-old female, after she was reportedly shot by the police during a peaceful demonstration that degenerated into a riot and the stoning of police.

The fatal shooting occurred between 09h00 and 10h00 yesterday in Claudius Kandovazu Street in Katutura outside the Swapo Party head offices.

The deceased, whose parents died during Namibia's liberation struggle in Angola, originates from Olukula-Okongo in Ohangwena Region and she arrived in the capital in 2013 to join other 'struggle kids' in their demands for jobs from government.

The victim whose next of kin were notified about her death was identified as Frieda Ndatipo who was apparently the sole breadwinner of her family since both her parents died in exile.

Police and Swapo Party sources claim some of the demonstrators were in possession of firearms, subsequently posing a threat to the lives of police officers on the scene, which triggered the fatal shooting. Police are saying the lives of their members dispatched to quell the confrontations targeting Swapo Party were endangered when some of the group reportedly fired the first shots at the police, injuring two officers, while another four were apparently hit by stones hurled by the demonstrators.

The 'struggle kids' denied allegations that they had firearms in their possession.

Sources said the police used lethal force after the deceased reportedly attacked one of the officers and ignored warning shots, thereby endangering the officer's life.

Police insist the victim died when they retaliated after enduring some gunfire from the group.

The 'struggle kids' who survived yesterday's alleged exchange of gunfire told New Era they went to the ruling party's headquarters to follow up on promises allegedly made by Swapo that they would be provided with jobs.

"We came here to see [Secretary General Nangolo] Mbumba but we could not do so because of the police," a group member said.

"We were unarmed and the police even conducted body searches when we came but they did not find any weapons, so they are lying by saying that some of us had guns. They just want to cover their tracks."

The group sang revolutionary songs while others cried over the body of their fallen colleague.

They also requested that the officer who killed the deceased be charged for murder.

Khomas Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Sylvanus Nghishidimbwa tried in vain to calm the group by talking to them and trying to convince them to vacate the scene while the police conducted their investigations.

"What happened here today was not planned, the police did not plan to kill anyone, therefore I am urging you to go back to your base while we do our work and see the way forward," he said.

"Just yesterday [Tuesday] we celebrated Heroes Day and now you are killing the very same children of the heroes you remembered. What was the use of Heroes Day then?" shouted one of the group while Nghishidimbwa addressed them.

Commenting on the incident, in the National Assembly yesterday afternoon, Geingob said: "This is a highly tragic and regrettable event which should not tear us apart but draw us closer where we can hold hands and listen to one another.

"There are those who have seized the opportunity and manipulated the frail psyches of the group in order to instigate sinister plots and embarrass government."

He added: "Using strategies such as the one which occurred today for the advancement of election campaigns is not going to make government acquiesce to demands."

Government cannot compromise the protection of private property and maintenance of peace, he said.

"We cannot allow Namibia to become a state which is plunged into anarchy."

Geingob said that his office has written letters to ministries such as defence, safety and security and youth to look at making budgetary provisions for the recruitment of some of these youths.

The recruitment would take place on the basis of availability of money and on the general principle in the police and army where potential recruits undergo necessary testing, the PM said.

"I therefore once again appeal to these youths to go back home as government is seized with the matter of solving their problems."

NamRights Executive Director Phil ya Nangoloh yesterday condemned the fatal incident.

"We strongly condemn the brutal murder this morning of a 26-year-old female member of the Children of the Liberation Struggle pressure group," stated ya Nangoloh.

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