THERE is something that I do not understand about justice and the law in Namibia. There I was, one Thursday after receiving my salary, my car with a full tank of petrol, thinking there is nothing can touch me.
I went out for a drink. I was drinking non-stop, drinking as if there is no tomorrow and without knowing that I am breaking the law. I was cruising the whole Windhoek under the influence of alcohol. At Wanaheda bus stop, I lost control of the car and bumped into another vehicle. I started negotiating with the fellow I bumped into on how to settle the damage I caused to his vehicle.
Unbeknownst to me the City Police were not far from where we were parked and approached the scene of the accident. As is customary the City Police ordered both of us to take the breathalyser test. My alcohol intake measured 0.75. I immediately got arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
That was not to be the end of it yet. I had to put up with many things that weekend. Since I was drunk, I did not realise that I was in danger. I simply took it as one of the ways of being an independent gentleman, the ‘chop o life guy’ as they say in the street. At the police station I was charged and pushed in a police holding cell with criminals.
Needless to say I had sleepless nights, each day counting every second for three days under lock and key in prison. This is what I do not understand - holding cells are not a prison but a place where people are kept before they appear in court to be found either guilty or not. But to me it seems a lot of things take place in there. I arrived at the holding cells around 3 am. Everyone in the cell was looking at me. I did not know they were targeting my clothes.
I left everything in that holding cell, believe me. My shoes, my trouser and T-shirt were removed from me by force. How on earth do you take someone’s belongings by force in a police holding cell? No one has the right to take someone’s clothes, not even in jail. People are in jail because of that, but now it seems more crime takes place in jail itself. The question is, does the crime only happen outside prison/police holding cells or does it also happen inside? My answer is that it takes place both outside and inside jail.
I appeared in court with no shoes. I slept on the floor without any blankets. The only food in prison was bread, porridge and soup. I told one of the police officers about being robbed of my clothing. His response was: “you deserve it because you are a criminal.” I am not a criminal. I was in holding cell waiting to appear in a court that would decide whether I am guilty or not. Yet, it was though I had been sentenced to a 35 year prison term.
What could the Ministry of Justice possibly do to spare us this kind of misery? This is a free country, a nation that has to work together, but perhaps this is not what we call justice. It is very disappointing. I feel for my fellow Namibians whom I left in that holding cell. Luckily I bailed myself out. That holding cell was pure hell with only one working toilet. I do not understand what kind of laws we have in Namibia.