Namibia: 'Racially Motivated' Attack Lands Man in ICU

The Outjo community is up in arms after a young man ended up in the intensive care unit following an assault that was allegedly racially motivated.

Police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi last week confirmed that a case of attempted murder was opened against South African citizen Johannes Meyer (26) after he allegedly assaulted Romario Gowaseb (25) outside the Outjo Bakery on 27 July.

Meyer was arrested two days later, and appeared in the Outjo Magistrate's Court on 5 August.

He was granted N$8 000 bail after a week in police custody.

"It is alleged that the suspect punched the victim with a fist, whereupon the victim fell and landed on the back of his head on the tarred road," Shikwambi said.

Gowaseb, who just recently woke up in the intensive care unit (ICU) in the Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek, told The Namibian over the phone last week that he only partially remembers that "a white man" beat him. He claims he cannot remember everything else that led to the attack.

According to a friend of Gowaseb, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the two of them drove to the Puma Service Station to pump a tyre around 21h00 on 27 July.

"We drove to the service station to pump the wheels. After the pumping, I was testing (revving) the vehicle to see if everything was fine. When I got out of the vehicle, I saw men approaching us from the Outjo Bakery," the friend told this reporter.

Meyer allegedly approached Gowaseb's friend, asking who was revving the vehicle. The friend replied that it was him. Meyer allegedly asked why they were revving the vehicle, and Gowaseb's friend responded that it was his vehicle, and he could do what he wanted with it.

Meyer then warned them not to rev the vehicle again, or they "will see".

As the argument progressed, Gowaseb was allegedly inside the vehicle with the engine running.

"He (Gowaseb) did not hear what we were talking about, and continued to run the engine. That is when this guy (Meyer) slammed the vehicle door on him," the friend said. According to the friend, Gowaseb was hit once on top of the head, and beaten in the face with a fist several times before he fell backwards and hit the pavement.

Following the assault, Gowaseb was rushed to the Outjo District Hospital.

Adelheid Gowases, Gowaseb's mother, said her son's nose was bloody.

"My son looked dead. He could not move," Gowases added. A day after he was admitted at the Outjo District Hospital, he was transferred to the Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek, where he was in the ICU for four days.

"After four days, my son woke up, and could only respond to what was being asked. He was not initiating any conversation," Gowases said.

Although Gowaseb cannot remember everything that happened to him on that day, his mother took him to the scene of the attack to try to get him to remember.

Gowases, who works as a matron at a local school, said when school resumes, she will hire a caretaker to look after Romario, who used to work at a charcoal company.

"My son used to assist me with water bills, and wherever he could," she continued.

Gowases said after the assault on her son, she went to the Outjo Police Station to enquire why Meyer was not yet arrested, and a female police officer allegedly responded that they had not been on the shift.

Gowases claims that only after seeking assistance from Otjozondjupa regional police deputy commissioner Moses Khairabeb was a case opened.

"If it was my son who assaulted him (Meyer), the police would immediately have arrested him," Gowases charged.

Koos Mazenge, an Outjo community activist, blasted the police for not wanting to assist the Gowaseb family with registering a case immediately.

"If you were a black person, you will have long been arrested," Mazenge claimed.

Following the attack, some Outjo residents vented their anger on Kaisames Radio, claiming that the assault on Gowaseb was 'racially motivated". They also blasted the Outjo police for the 'poor' way the case was handled.

Meyer is expected to make his second court appearance on 1 October, pending further police investigations.

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