Judicial

EFN condemns police response during Chinatown riot

Summary

While condemning the heavy-handedness of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) during last week’s demonstration at Chinatown, the Editors Forum of Namibia (EFN) has cautioned journalists to acquaint themselves with the necessary procedures to avoid being …

While condemning the heavy-handedness of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) during last week’s demonstration at Chinatown, the Editors Forum of Namibia (EFN) has cautioned journalists to acquaint themselves with the necessary procedures to avoid being caught in crossfire.

This follows incidents where some local journalists were struck by rubber bullets while on duty during the Chinatown incident.

According to preliminary reports, it appears as if the journalists were amidst the demonstrating crowd when NamPol’s paramilitary reserve force attempted to disperse it, which led to some journalists being struck in the process.

The EFN wants media houses to train their media practitioners to ensure that they never “expose themselves to parties who mean harm”.

“Never get caught up in the middle of a conflict or between two parties that are part of a conflict,” said Frank Steffen, the EFN chairperson in a statement issued late Monday.

According to EFN, journalists must ensure that the police or other security forces can see and identify them as media or journalists instead of activists.

“[Media houses must] recognise that they as media houses have an absolute obligation to ensure that their journalists do not unnecessarily expose themselves to unreasonably dangerous situations without having carefully evaluated their positions in the matter at hand,” he continued.

All in all, Steffen condemned police brutality during demonstrations.

The demonstration erupted at Chinatown - in the heart of Windhoek’s Northern industrial area - on Friday, following the arrest of Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) economic commissar, Michael Amushelelo for allegedly inciting violence and looting last Thursday.

Amushelelo also faces charges of closing down shops in Chinatown the day before.

Later that day, Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement activist, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma was also arrested on the same charges.

Both appeared in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court on Monday and were remanded in custody. Their next appearance is on 05 July. However, the bail bid continues on Tuesday.

The ruckus followed a public announcement by the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) that it destroyed counterfeit goods valued at N.dollars 5 million.

This fuelled Amushelelo, his target being Chinatown, calling it a fiefdom for counterfeit products.

“The EFN particularly criticises NamPol’s indiscriminate use of anti-riot weapons that led and caused injuries to journalists covering the protests,” Steffen noted.

The forum, however, is not supporting anarchy.

“Although EFN recognises that the police are responsible for law and order, which entitles them to follow due processes, the EFN would like to implore the police to resort to physical force as an absolute last resort.”

Source: The Namibian Press Agency