A trans woman, who was recently arrested at Outjo, claims she was subjected to transphobic harassment and police brutality while in custody, including having her wig pulled off, being forced to strip and bite off her nail and toe tips.
Patrick Bowe (25), who prefers to be referred to as Quinn and identifies as trans, says at the time of her arrest on 3 April, she was visiting her family at Outjo, her hometown, for the Easter weekend.
Bowe says she was initially put in a holding cell at Outjo Police Station for a number of hours without being informed why she was detained.
"They took me to the police station without telling me why I was being arrested, and when we got to the police station, they couldn't also explain what was going on," she says.
She claims she had to wait several hours for the investigating officer to arrive.
"My family came and also asked if a case was opened, and yes, a case was opened. We asked for the case registration number, but they couldn't give us that," Bowe says.
She says she was stripped of items such as shoelaces, and her handbag and cellphone at the police station.
She was then transferred to the Otjiwarongo Police Station's holding cells, she says, where she discovered her employer, Shoprite Otjiwarongo, opened a case of theft against her for allegedly stealing N$4 000 from the store before resigning in October.
Bowe denies the allegations, saying she resigned from the job because she was made to work shifts of 10 to 15 hour shifts of which only four hours were paid.
Additionally, she was not entitled to days off or back pay, she says.
Furthermore, she says the allegations come as a surprise as, to her knowledge, there were no accusations in the months after her resignation.
Bowe claims she was accused of faking her identity in an attempt to avoid prosecution at the Otjiwarongo Police Station.
"... that's when the assault started. They were saying I'm forging myself as a woman. while I'm a man. I had to remove my clothes that I had on as a trans woman and they put me into other clothes. That's when they started pulling off my wig and the mink eyelashes I had," she says.
Bowe says she was also forced to wash off her make-up with hand sanitiser and to bite off her nail tips on both her hands and feet.
"I also wore red pants of which the waistband could not come off. They took out a big steel knife, I don't know from where, and just cut it off," she says.
Thereafter, transphobic slurs were allegedly hurled at her.
"They threw me into a cell with about seven men who were shouting 'moffie' and saying 'there's a new girl in the house for us'," Bowe says.
When The Namibian contacted Shoprite Otjiwarongo, staff members acknowledged the incident, however, refused to provide further details.
The store manager refused to comment.
Otjozondjupa regional police spokesperson inspector Maureen Mbeha yesterday confirmed that Bowe was arrested on 3 April on a charge of theft.
She said the case was registered in October 2020, but Bowe was arrested over the long weekend because she was slated to appear in court on Tuesday, 6 April.
Mbeha said Bowe was instructed to hand over her valuable items for safekeeping.
This included cash, jewellery, a belt, wig, shoelaces and other items.
"He (sic) handed them over. He (sic) was then escorted to the cells pending his (sic) court appearance. He (sic) was granted bail and his (sic) case was postponed to 19 May," she said.
Mbeha could not confirm the alleged transphobic harassment, but said Bowe could lay a charge against the involved officers.
"With regard to further allegations of mistreatment by the police officers, Patrick Bowe is at liberty to visit the internal investigations office, or get in touch with me personally and lay a charge so that investigations can be conducted," she said.
Bowe says she plans to take legal action against the Namibian Police.