Namibia: Lockdowns Won't Stop Sex Crime

25 September 2020
editorial

"CLAIM NO EASY victories," Amilcar Cabral, the father of independence in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, said when urging party members to drive out colonisers.

Namibian leaders should adopt Cabral's mantra if societal ills like child molestation, incest, rape and gender-based violence are to be eliminated or vastly minimised.

Politicians and security officials have been quick to declare that the state of emergency that ended last week was highly effective in reducing crime across Namibia. Some boasted that as a by-product of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, family relations were greatly improved by the ban on the sale of alcohol, the curfew and lockdowns.

Propaganda will never beat the truth.

Like Pandora's box, the end of the state of emergency has lifted the lid on social evils lurking beneath the surface, if not worsened, as the country's attention was fixed on the global pandemic that led to a standstill of just about every human activity.

So far this month, the police recorded at least nine instances of rape of minors, with the majority by relatives or guardians. In July (yes, 2020), two-week-old Charmaine Moss died after allegedly being raped by her own father, Gert Skrywer, who has since appeared in court, according to Republikein.

An English daily reported this week that a 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped in a government Covid-19 quarantine facility at Swakopmund.

The media last week reported that two men broke into a house in Havana, Katutura, and allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl while forcing her mother and little sister (8) to watch the harrowing ordeal. It is suspected the gang of two was also responsible for 14 similar rape and violence cases in the Goreangab township of Katutura last year.

In Havana, a man was killed when he tried to rescue his 22-year-old sister from being raped.

The list is endless and continues to grow despite the courts harshly sentencing men to decades behind bars.

The reality is that Namibia has increasingly become unsafe and unpeaceful for many of its citizens.

Mass mobilisation, awareness campaigns, a drive for a regeneration of moral and ethical values are urgently needed. Prayers which have become once-off publicity events will never be enough.

We believe there's a need to create more safe havens for the weak and vulnerable, particularly children and women. Our leaders must involve the masses in widespread re-education drives, mobilisation and the creation of safe centres or shelters. This should start at a young age.

Police and military operations (Hornkranz, Kalahari, Namib) provide leaders with a false sense of achievement. Crime rates are not decreasing. If anything, crime is going further underground.

Rape, child molestation and incest are committed behind the closed doors of homes; the perpetrators are among families' most trusted members or the breadwinners.

Then there are the workplace predators. Managers of private companies, business owners, senior government officials and politicians regularly prey on women, particularly young ones, who are desperate for a job or career advancement. In some cases, this also has the knock-on effect of fostering misogyny in the workplace.

It's a dire situation we are in.

While we cannot heap all the responsibility on government leaders as home-based crimes are difficult to police, we call on leaders to revisit mobilisation drives like that of Amilcar Cabral in harnessing the power of mass awareness and education.

"Educate ourselves; educate other people, the population in general, to fight fear and ignorance, to eliminate little by little the subjection to nature and natural forces ...

"Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories ..."

In short, take the masses into confidence to eliminate evils in society such as corruption, crime and ignorance.

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