Nampower Employee Quits Over Nujoma Slur

AFTER allegedly calling the Founding President Sam Nujoma a baboon, a senior NamPower employee quit his job on Friday.

Piet Visser, a former district supervisor at the national power utility, resigned when a high-profile probe was launched into the allegations by NamPower chief executive officer Paulinus Shilamba.

Nujoma’s senior special assistant, John Nauta, yesterday confirmed that the Founding President is aware of the alleged racism which saw him likened to a wild animal.

“We are aware of it.”

Nauta ordered Visser “to pack his bags and go to Europe”.

However, Nauta expressed wonder whether Visser knows that “there are also blacks in Europe”.

Barely concealing his dismay, Nauta wanted to know: “How would you feel if an adult insults a national leader? He’s living in the old days of apartheid. What has the old man (Nujoma) done to deserve such an insult? Maybe he (Visser) was a member of Koevoet.”

Upon enquiry, Shilamba said: “It is correct that this incident was reported to my office late last year and I am pleased to inform you that an investigation was carried out immediately in line with our disciplinary policy and procedures. As part of the investigation the incumbent, Piet Visser, was contacted and statements were obtained in this regard.”

According to Shilamba, Visser decided to resign after an internal investigation was initiated.

“Unfortunately, while the investigation was ongoing, Visser decided to resign and his last working day was 16 January 2015.”

The CEO denied that NamPower management had dragged their feet in conducting the probe after the racist allegations were brought under their attention.

“I would like to disagree with the sentiments that there was reluctance on the part of my management team to institute action against the perpetrator. This is a serious offence and there was no way that, as a responsible corporate citizen, we could have left the matter unattended to as alleged in your mail message.”

Apart from aising Visser to leave the country, Nauta also urged him to seek therapy by consulting a psychologist.

He also urged the media to take their educational role seriously and “educate [people] that we’re no longer living in old days of apartheid and racism”.

Asked how the comments had affected Nujoma, Nauta said: “Would you be happy? It not only affects the old man but the whole nation.”

An audibly upset Visser poured his heart out to The Namibian yesterday. According to him, the situation was blown out of proportion and has left him “gatvol (fed-up)”.

He admitted that the incident had necessitated his prompt resignation and that his departure would leave a void at the parastatal.

Visser said he has not reached retirement age yet and “still has a lot left [regarding further career opportunities]” but that he has nothing concrete on the table yet.

When probed about the racist allegations, Visser said: “Things are said. Sometimes, one makes a joke with one another. It is just unfortunate that the thing came out wrongly and was blown out of proportion. I don’t judge – we all make mistakes. I made a mistake and I apologised.”

As a result of the trauma of the incident, he has been tumbled into a state of severe depression, Visser says.

“I would like to forget about the episode I would like to get closure. I am tired up to my soul.”

John Nakuta, director of the Human Rights Documentation Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Namibia, this week said that allegations of racism, when proven, could amount to a contravention of the Racial Discrimination Prohibition Act. As such, an offender could be charged and prosecuted.

Moreover, Nakuta says, calling the Founding President a baboon amounts to another criminal offence, namely crimen injuria.

Visser thus faces at least two potential criminal charges in connection with his “mistake”.

A letter, in which the workers who claim to have been at the receiving end of Visser’s racism express their grievances, is in The Namibian’s possession.

“One NamPower supervisor is in the habit of hating, belittling and being offensive towards his fellow workers, especially the blacks.

“One supervisor at the NamPower stores was in the habit of calling the assistants kaffirs and baboons.”

Source : The Namibian