Shebeen Issue Now Turns to Insults

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The shebeen fight issue has somewhat taken a shift in course with the opposing sides trading accusations over what each side calls insults. This follows the recent arrest of top unionist and Erongo regional mobilizer Beny Petrus against the background of police action to close all unlicensed shebeens across the country. He was arrested on Monday on charges of incitement to public violence. Walvis Bay Police Chief Inspector Johannes Hamman confirmed the arrest of the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union Second Vice President Petrus at the union’s offices in Walvis Bay this week. He appeared in the Swakopmund magistrate’s court on the same day and the case was postponed until September 4 this year. He was granted bail of N$5 000. Since the second shebeen demonstration in the capital roughly a month ago, some leaders have expressed concern that demonstrators have on several occasions chanted slogans that could be regarded as insulting. These messages were allegedly targeted at national leaders. Swapo Party President Sam Nujoma during the Regional Leadership Forum last week warned shebeen operators who recently demonstrated against the Liquor Act and carried placards carrying the message ‘Down with Pohamba’, saying such expressions were tantamount to treason. The former Head of State said that Swapo Party leaders were ridiculed and rebuked through the media by demonstrations. He pointed out that one example of such reactionary slogans was the one saying ‘Down with Pohamba’. Nujoma added that if those who chanted such slogans were Swapo Party members, he wished to remind them that Swapo Party would not tolerate such unscrupulous and misguided elements under its fold. He appealed to all Namibians to respect their leaders so that they can maintain discipline in the party. He said as leaders, they must ensure that they always promote inner party and national unity, patriotism and solidarity among themselves and the country at large. Shebeen leader representing the northern parts of the country, Moses Amukoto, revealed that Petrus was apparently arrested because of the meeting he allegedly held on June 11, 2006 at the coastal town of Swakopmund. During the meeting with shebeeners at the town, Petrus purportedly used expressions that can easily be interpreted as an insult to national leaders. He added, “They are saying that he (Petrus) apparently used abusive language against leaders. They are saying that he said ‘Pohamba down’.” Amukoto further rejected reports that shebeeners at Omuthiya a few weeks ago insulted police officers who were busy with the ‘No Shebeen Operation’ campaigns adding that on the contrary, shebeeners are the ones who were insulted by some political leaders. Though he declined to reveal the name, he said one leader called him “eshenge” (homosexual) at one of the meetings held in an effort to find a lasting solution to the shebeen saga. “We have children. Why should we be called “oma-shenge “(homosexual). We respect them as our leaders. People should not politicize the shebeen issue, we are fighting for our children, we are fighting for our bread and butter,” he lamented.

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