By: Kelvin Chiringa and Justicia Ashipena
An atmosphere of jubilation engulfed the entrance of the Windhoek Correctional Facility Monday afternoon after a security vehicle brought out formerly incarcerated political agitators, Michael Amushelelo and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma.
A throng of Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) donning their signature red garb and descended at the facility off Katutura minutes after the court granted the duo N$5 000 each bail money.
“Well, first things first, this is just the start of the struggle,” Amushelelo announced as he drowned into the embrace of the crowd moments before they got whisked away into a party vehicle.
Amushelelo said for as long as there are economic disparities in Namibia, his freedom was not worthy of celebration.
The NEFF economic commissar was arrested on a charge of incitement after he and Nauyoma mobilised to shut down China Town in protest of a Namibia Revenue Agency decision to destroy N$5 million worth of counterfeit goods from traders.
“We still have millions of people living in shacks. We have an army of unemployed young people in this country. So, this is just the start of the struggle. What we have done as that we have just replaced foxes and we put hyenas.”
“But these hyenas are worse. These are vampires because what is worse about these vampires that we now have in government is that they are our own flesh and blood. You see, back in the day, you could easily identify the enemy because the enemy was white. Now you have a petty bourgeoisie that occupies government offices at the expense of the masses. What we will now do, from this moment, is that we are going to mobilise our people and demand what is rightfully ours,” he said.
In the meantime, Nauyoma, who comes out to a disunited Affirmative Repositioning movement, openly endorsed the NEFF with chants as he railed up the mob with political chants.
“We were busy with a certificate. We are done with a diploma; we are done. We are now getting into an advanced diploma. But with the little (prison) experience that we have, we are able to share with the nation our experiences (of prison).”
“We are not like others who come here and sleep, enjoy the meals. I will not tell you how many. Today, I was told that if you want to strengthen an iron, once you heat it and cool it, it becomes stronger. So, we now know what tactics the regime is willing to use. Of course, I must now consult my lawyers to say what is it that I can speak (about) and what is it that I cannot speak,” he said.
In a statement, the NEFF expressed that they have “always been resolute that the Magistrates’ Court was not using common sense and acting out of emotions and political expediency in its tenacity to refuse Nauyoma and Amushelelo bail”.
“The High Court victory as witnessed on this day, the 22nd of August 2022, is not only a victory for the NEFF and its vanguard supporters but is a victory for democracy in Namibia, the freedom to belong to a party of choice and the freedom to express one’s political conviction.”
“The High Court has proven that we were correct all the while in our relentless assertion that these brave sons of Namibia were prisoners of conscience who were targeted for their characteristic revolutionary energy to stand against injustice. Nauyoma and Amushelelo were being punished for daring to carry out a revolutionary program which has been espoused by this mass-based movement, to free our people from economic poverty,” said NEFF deputy president Kalimbu Iipumbu.
Iipumbu said his party will continue to carry out its activism along with Nauyoma.
“As we celebrate their release, the party would also like to call for the respect of the privacy of Amushelelo and Nauyoma, especially in these times in which they have to reconnect with their families and recover from the effects of prison. The NEFF, along with our Commander in Chief, Jan Epaphras Mukwiilongo, received the two seconds after their release at the Windhoek Correctional Facility on this 22nd day of August, and we will notify you of our next course of action in due course,” he said.
In granting bail, High Court judge Christie Liebenberg said the fact that six others were charged in the same matter seems that them being released on warning was a material factor which required further scrutiny by the court during the bail application.
He said the duo were in the same boat and should have been treated the same.
Liebenberg added that the picture portrayed by the duo about them being social justice activists contrasts sharply with the evidence of the investigating officer testifying for the State.
In the judgement, he also addressed Amushelelo’s attitude displayed during cross-examination with the State.
“The appellant’s demeanour smacked of arrogance, and his
Too often, answers to questions relevant to the enquiry were sarcastic and clearly intended to insult the person of the prosecutor. At some point, the court appropriately issued a warning to the appellant and advised him to focus instead on the questions he was required to answer. Such behaviour by a witness when giving evidence is unnecessary, unacceptable and must be discouraged in the strongest terms,” he said.
He is of the view the protest where the duo’s arrest was the direct
consequence of their actions on the day was an isolated incident aimed at specific business owners, not the public.
“Not to say that the rights of these persons are inferior to that of others. The fact remains that the appellants’ conduct was limited to a specific incident which was brought under control with the arrest of the appellants and their co-accused.”
Touching on the strength of the State’s case and the admissibility of hearsay evidence, Liebenberg said the case, the risk of condiment was not an issue.
“But the magistrate seems to have used these factors to conclude
that it was not in the public’s best interest or the administration of justice that he be released! I respectfully endorse these sentiments,” he adds.
In May, warrant officer Lisias Nakanyala took the stand and testified that it would be in the public’s interest to grant the duo bail.
“The hearsay evidence adduced by W/O Nakanyala was accordingly left unchallenged,” said Liebenberg.
He was also satisfied that the question as to the appellants absconding or interfering with the state witnesses or police investigation did not arise in the bail application.
“I am satisfied that the evidence adduced did not establish
a real likelihood that the appellants will re-offend when out on bail. I am convinced that any future conduct by the appellants being prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order, or the public interest, could be countered by appropriate bail conditions,” he said
In this vein, he is also of the view the interest of the administration of justice does not require the continued detention of the duo pending the finalisation of their case.
Hence, he ruled that the the court a quo’s decision when refusing bail in this matter is accordingly found to be wrong and falls to be set aside.
Liebenberg further remained Nauyoma and Amushelelo that in a democratic society, all persons are equal before the law; in contrast, the rights of all persons are guaranteed and protected under the Namibian Constitution.
“In a democratic state like ours, the executive authorities
oversee and uphold the rule of law, and it is not for individuals to take the law into their own hands. Such conduct is likely to promote lawlessness and must be condemned strongly.”
The N$5 000 bail is granted with conditions that the duo not mobilise or involve themselves in any unlawful public gathering.
Another condition is that the two accused are prohibited from entering a radius of 1 kilometre of the area known as ‘China town’ in Windhoek’s district.