Protester’s death rocks Namibia

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iol news pic Namibia PM Hage Geingob INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Namibian president Hage Geingob File picture: Alan Taylor

Windhoek - A young woman was shot dead in Namibia on Wednesday in clashes between police and the children of fallen independence fighters, a rare incidence of political violence in the country.

Frieda Ndatipo, 26, was killed during a demonstration calling for jobs in front of headquarters of the country's ruling party, the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO).

Two police officers were also seriously injured.

Ndatipo was one of the so-called “struggle kids” - a group of young Namibians who are calling on the government to employ them.

Most of the group have parents who died in the guerrilla war for independence from South Africa, which ended in 1990.

Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Hage Geingob described Ndatipo's death as “a highly tragic and regrettable event.”

An AFP reporter saw Ndatipo's body laying by the side of the road, as police cordoned off the area.

Wearing pink jeans and a blood-soaked blue tee-shirt she appeared to have suffered a bullet wound to the upper left torso.

Officers claimed that demonstrators had been armed with sticks and stones as well as firearms, but demonstrators denied the accusation.

“They are lying by saying that some of us had guns. They just want to cover their tracks,” said one of the group members, who asked not to be named.

Protesters gathered after the shooting, demanding the officer allegedly responsible be charged. Some sang revolutionary songs while others wept in remembrance.

“Just yesterday we celebrated Heroes Day and now you are killing the very same children of the heroes you remembered. What was the use of Heroes Day then?” shouted one of the group members.

Political unrest is unusual in Namibia, but with around 40 percent youth unemployment, tensions are growing ahead of elections in November.

Prime Minister Geingob said the government has taken note of the protests, but urged them to leave the streets.

Geingob suggested some of the “struggle kids” were being manipulated in a bid to embarrass the government.

“Using strategies such as the one which occurred today for the advancement of election campaigns is not going to make the government acquiesce to demands,” he said.

The government has proposed training the group, but stopped short of granting them jobs.

SWAPO, still liked by many thanks to its role in gaining the country independence, is expected to win the November election easily.

But the party has been tainted by a series of corruption scandals and persistently high inequality, prompting the emergence of populist party the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters.


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