File picture: Pixabay
File picture: Pixabay

Namibia drops GBV protest charges against gender activists

By Molaole Montsho Time of article published Oct 12, 2020

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Rustenburg - Namibia's prosecutor general, Martha Imalwa, has declined to prosecute gender activists arrested over the weekend for protesting against gender-based violence, local media reported on Monday.

The group of activists was to appear in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon following their arrest on Saturday, but were freed.

Video footage posted by daily newspaper New Era on its twitter account, showed jubilant protesters, mostly women, emerging from the court, throwing air punches and shouting: "We are free, long live".

The crowd waiting outside the court behind red tape heartily welcomed the release.

According to radio station Eagle FM, one of the lawyers representing the protesters confirmed that the prosecutor general had decided not to prosecute.

In an unprecedented protest, hundreds of young people, mostly women, took to the streets in the capital of Windhoek on Saturday, shutting down shopping centres, and calling for businesses to join the fight against gender-based violence.

The activists were arrested and charged for allegedly contravening the Public Gathering Act, contravention of regulations banning gatherings of more than 50 people, as well as for public disorder.

According to a report in daily newspaper The Namibian, freelance journalist Anne Hambuda, Julia Heita of Eagle FM and Julia Nekweya of the Namibian Daily News, were also arrested but released on the same day without being charged.

In a statement, The Action Namibia Coalition condemned the country’s police for arresting protesters, saying that video footage of the protest showed that the police had committed human rights abuses.

They called on President Hage Geingob to condemn the actions of the police and to immediately set out what government would do to protect women and prevent gender-based violence and femicide in Namibia.

They called on the state to drop charges against the protestors.

The Namibian reported that prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the government would provide formal feedback on a petition against sexual and gender-based violence on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting.

A petition handed over to parliament on Thursday called for a state of emergency to be declared due to gender-based violence in the country.

- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Desiree Erasmus

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