Headman Threatens Journalist

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By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI Following a story that implicated him in abuse of authority, the senior headman of Onamutayi traditional district, Amon Sheefeni Shipanga, recently threatened to take unspecified action against this reporter. The senior headman’s outburst is a sequel to a story in the New Era’s edition of Monday, March 12, 2007, under the headline “Senior headman accused of cheating and abuse”. In the story he was accused of cheating a widow from Omusheshe village, Rachel Kakoto, of more than N$50ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 and fellow villager, Nalweendo Margaret Weyulu, of the money paid by private construction companies mining gravel in their mahangu fields. Shipanga’s confrontational behaviour started more than a week ago when he visited the New Era offices after he was initially approached for comment. He did not find this reporter in the office on Friday, but left a message that he should not go ahead with the story. Last Tuesday, he came in full force with assistants, among them his son Metumo Shipanga, Paulus Mutikisha, the headman of Eko lyanaambo, Shipanga ‘s daughter-in-law, Taleni Hango Shipanga, and Rachel Kakoto. Apparently this time Shipanga had instructed the complainant to deny that she had complained about mistreatment despite documents in the possession of New Era stating otherwise. He wanted to know who had complained to the newspaper that he had received money and how it emerged that other matters related to the traditional issues are reported in the newspaper. He did not deny the content of the story (allegations against him) but was only worried about who had leaked the information to the newspaper. The senior headman was repeatedly told that, as part of the ethics of journalism, no self-respecting journalist would reveal confidential sources. Pointing a threatening finger at this reporter, he told him to stop writing about him or he would deal with him. At one stage his daughter-in-law, a nurse at Oshakati Hospital, attempted to take a photo of this reporter with her cell phone. When she was confronted about this, she became agitated and started using abusive language. “You are nothing; why should I take your photo. This is my private cell phone and you cannot even screen it,” she retorted.