Two police officers, who were involved in a melee with Windhoek mayor Sade Gawanas on Monday afternoon, have laid two charges of crimen injuria and racial discrimination against the politician.
National police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi also confirmed the charges laid by the mayor at the Wanaheda police station against police officers are part of ongoing investigations into the matter, which saw the brief arrest of Gawanas on Monday in Windhoek’s Okahandja Park. According to Shikwambi, the internal police investigation unit has embarked on the disciplinary and criminal investigation following charges laid by the mayor against the members of the force as per police procedure.
On Monday, Gawanas opened charges of crimen injuria, unlawful arrest and common assault against the police officers. The city mayor was allegedly unlawfully arrested after a confrontation between her and police officers on patrol broke out at Okahandja Park on Monday.
Images and visuals of a handcuffed Gawanas emerged on social media platforms on Monday afternoon.
Gawanas yesterday gave her version of events during a media briefing organised by her party, the Landless People’s Movement. She claimed police officers appeared to be already frustrated and angry.
“They were already frustrated because while we are talking with one officer another officer shouted that I must be arrested. They threw me in the van, saying they do not care and drove with me for 15 to 20 minutes in a van handcuffed before my driver told them to release me immediately,” she recalled.
LPM leader Henry Seibeb condemned the act of the police, saying they will seek an immediate meeting with police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga to register their disappointment in the manner in which the mayor was “manhandled”.
He said the statement of the police is misleading and warrants an apology as it assassinates the character of the mayor.
“The statement issued by the public relations officer is insinuating that the mayor was conducting something illegal that is why the police arrested her. The statement carries serious allegations that are casting aspersion on the mayor who was doing her job,” he said.
However, Shikwambi said she has issued a preliminary report while the comprehensive report is being issued by the regional police.
“That was a preliminary report and I stand by it. I am not going to apologise as it was preliminary,” she said.
Various opposition parties have also condemned the incident, while accusing the police of abusing power.
Deputy president of the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters Kalimbo Iipumbu said the arrest of the mayor is another manifestation of the fearful regime’s willingness to resort to State machinery and security apparatus to intimidate and arrest political opponents.
“It is morally, ethically and cognitively unjustifiable to arrest a democratically elected mayor, whilst in line with her duty. The Windhoek mayor was duly elected by the people, and therefore carries the responsibility to serve her residents in the jurisdiction of the capital city without intimidation from anyone,” he said.
Spokesperson of the Affirmative Repositioning movment Simon Kanepolo praised the mayor for defending members of the community who were being “harassed” by police.
“I must say, despite our political differences with councillor Sade Gawanas, mayor of Windhoek, I am very proud of her stance today. She demonstrated leadership, as leaders we must always go to the ground and defend the poor masses of our people. Leaders must never fear arrest and detention. Salutation to your defiance spirit your worship,” he said.