Namibia: Dagga Activists Stand By Leader

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The group says the arrest of the organisation's president was unlawful as they seek to sue the government.

Members of the Ganja Users of Namibia say they will not be deterred by the arrest of the organisation's president on charges of drug possession.

Ganja Users of Namibia (GUN) president Brian "B Jah" Jaftha was arrested at his home in Katutura's Havana Court in Windhoek on Wednesday. His arrest comes a few days after members of his organisation, along with other dagga users, and supporters, marched in Windhoek and Swakopmund urging the government to legalise dagga use.

Police deputy chief inspector Kauna Shikwambi yesterday confirmed Jaftha's arrest, saying he was charged with possession of cannabis with a street value of N$2 040.

He is expected to appear in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court today.

Shikwambi said Jaftha was arrested during the second phase of Operation Hornkranz, which is still in progress. This is a joint operation between the Namibian Police and members of the Namibia Defence Force to curb crime in Windhoek. The operation was launched in December last year.

Shikwambi said during the operation on Wednesday, intelligence was given to the team, comprising police, NDF and Windhoek City Police officers, about Jaftha's possession of drugs.

She added that the team went to Jaftha's home and searched the premises. The suspect allegedly tried to flee, but was arrested after the substance was found on him.

GUN member Borro Ndungula told The Namibian yesterday that they had approached the Legal Assistance Centre for help to open a civil case against the government.

He said he was still in shock over the arrest, describing it as a violation of Jaftha's rights. He claims that members of the NDF assaulted Jaftha before dragging him from a crowd of supporters "who were left in disbelief".

Ndungula, who claims to have also been assaulted after questioning the actions of the uniformed forces, alleges that a group of more than 40 'high-ranking NDF officials' unexpectedly arrived at the Havana Court in Katutura between 10h00 or 11h00 and pounced on Jaftha who remains in custody pending his court appearance.

He refuted reports that Jaftha was found in possession of drugs.

According to Ndungula, the reports painted a negative picture of the organisation, which he said has no business dealing in drugs.

Ndungula conceded that the incident could be related to the group's march last week where they petitioned against an old apartheid law.

Ndungula added that the "legalisation of the plant is unstoppable", revealing that more than 200 000 people use cannabis in Namibia and will continue to fight for its legalisation.

Another GUN member, who only identified himself as 'Lightning Ado', described Jaftha's arrest as defeating the ends of justice, saying it was a grudge by the authorities against their movement. The self-employed 40-year-old said the "crucifixion of the plant in democratic Namibia is unjust and unfair."

Meanwhile, Thulisa Shanti (37) a mother of four, condemned the arrest of Jaftha.

"Rastas are peace-loving people who are anti-violence," Shanti said.

NDF spokesperson Petrus Shilumbu yesterday declined to comment on allegations that some members of the military had assaulted Jaftha. A candidate legal practitioner at the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Bradley Thoa, confirmed that GUN's general consulted LAC with regard to opening a civil case. He added that LAC was still in the process of taking full instruction to consider any representation for the arrested GUN president.

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