Namibia Ranks No. 5 in Serious Assault Cases

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By Wonder Guchu WINDHOEK This past week, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) re-ran its live coverage of police raids on shebeens in Windhoek to show what is going on under the blanket of darkness, and what emerged seems to show – God forbid – a nation fast becoming bloodthirsty and careless with human life. In one scene, two teenage girls were said to have been lucky that the police arrived on the scene where they were about to be raped, one of them showing a bloodied sleeve from a gashed arm. In another scene a man, whose clothes were bloodied, had a nasty gash on his head. He was also said to have been lucky that the police arrived on the scene in time to rescue him from his attackers. At the Katutura Hospital over weekends, especially at a month-end, gory scenes are encountered. People come in with serious knife wounds to their necks, some with their eyes gouged out, others with their heads badly mutilated, and still others with severe bruisings. The lucky ones are those who arrive unconscious, but others don’t stand a chance of seeing another day. There are places in Namibia where serious assault cases go unnoticed and unreported. These assaults take place mostly in the homes where the victims – women and children – have no recourse to law or access to organizations where they can seek help. These kinds of serious assaults, which are the most common, resulted in about 10 women being murdered by the end of August, and about another six losing their lives in September. This is not really surprisng when one considers that Namibia is ranked number four in the world in most serious assault cases. It is horrifying to note that South Africa is number three, Swaziland number six, Ghana number seven and Zimbabwe number nine. The rate of occurrence in Namibia is 533.6 for every 100ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 persons, while that of South Africa is 595.6. The rankings were compiled by the Dean’s Office for Research and Undergraduate Studies and the School of General Studies, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, and was sponsored by the Commission for the Prevention of Violence (COPREVI). For a nation with the second-lowest population in the world, after Mongolia, to be ranked thus begs much thinking and soul-searching. The NBC clip, where the teenage girl showed a bloodied sleeve after her arm was slashed, is some indication as to what is wrong with our society today. Other clips showed parents, with their kids in tow, leaving unlikely places like shebeens at an ungodly hour where these children have to witness people beating each other up and all sorts of untoward behaviour taking place. The fact that a number of youth, who were caught during the blitz, challenged police officers and answered them in a rude fashion, speaks volumes about tomorrow’s generation who have no respect for the law. Ironically, some of them, when caught on the wrong side of the law, even have the gall to talk about their rights. It is this raw misunderstanding of what constitutes individual rights that sometimes leads to gross misinterpretation of societal values. Everywhere in the world the law forbids the selling of alcoholic drinks to the under-aged or their access to any place where such beverages are sold. However, this is not the case in Namibia where the numerous shebeens are like buses that carry all age groups, as long as money exchanges hands. This early exposure to a life of vice has seen the rate of violence escalating, and children are affected as witnessed by a Rehoboth High School Grade 10 pupil’s heart-rending appeal for a non-violent Namibia. “A home without violence is a peaceful home where the family can live in harmony. To live with your family is the best thing that can happen to you. A home without violence is a home every woman and child can dream of and has a right to. Family members give love to each other. A home without violence, influences students positively. Family members trust each other and can share secrets. In a home without violence, you get everything you want, including love and respect. “Many children dream of a home without violence, and we can only hope for this to become a reality in Namibia. If we could make a difference, the whole world would be a better place. So let us work together for a domestic, violence-free Namibia,” wrote Ronel. Until now, it is incomprehensible that the Namibian Government should allows shebeens to mushroom almost everywhere. One street in any one section of Katutura, for example, has more than 10 makeshift shelters being used as shebeens. By allowing this to happen, the government is licensing alcoholism, which is sadly the case today. There are more shebeens than clinics or schools. Needless to say, alcoholism contributes a great deal to violent acts committed both at drinking places and in the home. Most people turn to alcoholism because they have nothing to do. With the unemployment rate currently at 35 percent, and with only 7ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 of the 20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 school-leavers securing employment every year, one can almost understand why there is so much violence. In fact, a report compiled by the Labour Resource and Research Institute two years ago revealed that most of the unemployed were aged 25 and under. “This is a time bomb just waiting to be exploded,” the report said. To show that this is indeed the case, the recently concluded Police Operation Black September yielded 403 weapons and, frighteningly enough, some of these were recovered from schools and school hostels. The mushrooming of informal settlements is also contributing to the high rate of violence because people vent their frustrations on each other. In most of the settlements, it is the fittest and the most ruthless who will survive. While the police are doing the best they can, the NBC report showed how taxing their amount of work is.