Eveline de Klerk
A team of senior detectives have left for Walvis Bay to lead the investigation into the mysterious disappearance and suspected murder of 22-year-old Shannon Wasserfall. The head of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) of the Namibian Police, Commissioner Moritz !Naruseb told journalists yesterday that a woman was detained by the police and questioned over the six-month-long disappearance of the Windhoek-based Shannon.
The suspected remains of Wasserfall were discovered on Tuesday after a tip-off was sent to her family. !Naruseb explained although the female suspect was detained at Walvis Bay, the investigation in the matter was progressing very well and more arrests based on the evidence received would be effected.
“The person detained is being interviewed by the detectives before she can be charged and appear. But she will only be formally arrested and appear based on the evidence gathered,” he explained, saying the police “still have time” to charge the detained suspect.
The police by law have 48 hours to detain a suspect for questioning without pressing any formal charges. He said the murder case was registered based on the circumstances under which the human remains were discovered.
“Although one person was detained, we are however, still appealing to anyone who might have information or had heard or witnessed the disappearance of Shannon Wasserfall or concerning the human remains that were discovered by the police to come forward,” he said. Wasserfall’s father Tega Mateus yesterday told Namibian Sun that he positively identified the remains of her daughter at a local mortuary. The remains were brought to Windhoek for a post-mortem.
Protesters clash with police
The discovery of the remains sparked outrage, with over 300 citizens rallying in Windhoek in a #ShutItAllDown protest demanding justice and an end to femicide and gender violence. The protesters also marched to the Windhoek police station, the Ministry of Justice and parliament premises where they were teargassed by police after the march spilled over. The police claimed the protesters were illegally at parliament as they did not have permission to be there. Before the clashes with the police, the group of protesters read out their petition at Zoo Park.
“The justice ministry should also prioritise the establishment of sexual offences courts to expertly, effectively and sensitively deal with SGBV cases, order the urgent review of sentencing laws for sex offenders and murderers, particularly about bail, suspension of sentences and severity to emphasise Namibia’s intolerance of SGBV,” read the petition, which was delivered by Bertha Tobias.
“Disallow the withdrawal of cases lodged in respect of the Combating of Rape Act as well as the Domestic Violence Act, prioritise the urgent retraining and re-organising of the police force to strengthen the capacity of the force to respond to SGBV reports and allegations; mandate the 24/7 operation of the existing Gender-Based Violence Protection Unit; mandate the provision of remote and mobile Gender-Based Violence Protection Unit services regularly.”
Meanwhile, at Walvis Bay, Erongo governor Neville Andre said gender violence was shaming the country, saying Namibians should no longer look the other direction but report abusive partners and family members to save women and children from becoming statistics of violent crimes. Wasserfall went missing at Walvis Bay on 10 April this year.
She had shortly dropped off her two-year-old son at a friend. Shockingly, the region from March this year until September reported 25 rape cases and 176 domestic violence and gender-based incidences. However, only one case of rape and 11 cases of GBV related cases were reported in April, while in September alone, five rape cases and 23 GBV cases were reported.
“GBV cut across all gender lines. However, we cannot ignore the glaring statistics that clearly show women and children are the most affected. It is stealing the innocence of our children, killing our women and shattering families across the country,” he said. Andre said the men in society should rather act as protectors as women and children can no longer live in a society where men are wrecking horror on them through murder and rape.