The police at the northwestern town of Khorixas on Thursday banned political marches after a fight nearly broke out between UDF and Swapo supporters.
Apparently the fracas started when Swapo supporters stopped their cars in front of the UDF head office and started shouting political slogans.
Swapo members were driving around Khorixas before they were due to be addressed by Minister of Works and Transport Alfeus !Naruseb in the !Goas area, which is home to many of the town’s elderly.
“From today onwards there will be no marches in Khorixas. We (the police) are going to stop it, as this Swapo march is the last one to be had,” Sergeant Maria //Howoses told UDF members, as they stood in the road in front of their party’s office.
As //Howoses addressed the UDF supporters, some shouted: “We are not visitors here, neither are we children to be treated in such a way,” while another police officer warned Milka //Hoeses to be careful.
Hoards of UDF members drove to the UDF office while others ran, as Swapo members stopped and shouted slogans.
Other UDF members shouted from behind that: “The police are supporting Swapo and we will not be quiet this time,” while Menno ‘Mannetjie’ Swartz went up to some police officers and asked them to jail him if they are fair.
“Jail me. Jail me if you are fair,” Swartz pleaded with a group of police officers, who had arrived in three vehicles.
“You (refering to this reporter) even saw that the police are encouraging violence here. They know that political parties have to stay 500 metres away from each other, as the law says. Do you think we (UDF) will stand and watch if someone provokes us in front of our yard?” Swartz, a prominent UDF member, who spoke on behalf of his party members, asked angrily.
Swartz accused the police of being corrupt and said their spraying of UDF members with teargas is a sign such incidents can lead to violence in the run-up to Friday’s elections. In response the UDF also plans to march to the Swapo office at Khorixas.
Swartz singled out police officer Vincent Dax as one of the instigators of violence after he sprayed UDF supporters with teargas, while vehicles belonging to Swapo members drove past unhindered as UDF members tried to block them.
Timotheus van Wyk, a UDF member who was tear-gassed said they were talking with Swapo members to stay away from the UDF office when the police sprayed them with teargas.
“The police just arrived and sprayed us. It’s our democratic right to be safe in our area, but today the police showed us that they are siding with Swapo. If that is the case we will show each other what violence means,” van Wyk warned.
A few weeks ago Sergeant Paul Goaseb held a meeting with various political parties and told them that political parties must stay a certain distance from each other’s rallies and activities. Police are said to have gone to the Swapo office to warn ruling party members to stay away from other political parties.
According to some UDF members Swapo’s election campaigns have lately become increasingly provocative. Swapo mobiliser for Khorixas district Rice Haraeb said the officer who led his party during the march drove towards the UDF office since he is new in the area. “The officer does not know Khorixas very well and by accident drove there,” Haraeb said. He also added that they are well aware that political parties have to keep a certain distance away from other parties.
While Swapo and UDF members nearly clashed on Saturday, UDF councilor Erwin //Howoseb and Swapo councilor Elfie Essau greeted each other cordially.
The UDF has four seats on the town council, while Swapo has three. Khorixas has been a stronghold of the UDF since Independence in 1990.