Namibia: Youth Arrested for Rebuilding Goreangab Shack

THE police charged six youth activists on Wednesday afternoon while they were rebuilding a shack for a resident of the Goreangab informal settlement in Windhoek.

Isdor Kamati, a community activist, and five other young men were stopped in their tracks around 12h00 on Wednesday while setting up a structure for a resident whose shack was going to pieces.

"We have just been arrested for putting up a proper structure for Albertino," Kamati wrote on the social media platform Twitter. "Grounds of arrest: 'Land grabbing'."

Last week the group had come across the resident, only identified as "Albertino", while they were out distributing soap and sanitation products to the community.

Speaking to The Namibian by telephone, Kamati said the police arrested them for obstruction of justice and getting in the way of their work.

"They haven't charged us yet, but we were brought here because we did something without consulting.

"Now they want to fine us for contravening the lockdown. Even if they want to add that charge, in the first place we're just neighbors and it's not really a gathering," he said.

An officer at Wanaheda Police Station confirmed that the six were apprehended, but was hesitant to divulge further information.

"I can say that the six gentlemen are with us and a state case has been opened," the officer said.

While he could not provide further detail about the grounds of arrest, he confirmed that the group would be charged for hindering and obstructing officers during the current state of emergency.

This was confirmed by a summons seen by The Namibian. In the summons, Kamati is charged with failing to adhere to a police officer's instruction for a public gathering to disperse, and is given the option to pay a N$2 000 admission of guilt fine, or to appear in court on 13 May.

Kamati said they intend to challenge the charge in court.

The group raised about N$6 000 in less than a week to help Albertino rebuild his shack. Kamati said they were concerned about Albertino's living situation as the change in season would adversely affect the resident.

"Today we finished building and [that's when] security called the police," Kamati said. "All we had to do was pour the cement for the floor and he would have been able to move in today or tomorrow."

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