The group of 14 ‘struggle kids’ charged with public violence were remanded in custody at the Oshakati Magistrates Court, where they appeared on Tuesday.
The group stands accused of public violence and defying police orders to disperse from the Okandjengedi Bridge. Confrontation erupted between the two sides while the so-called struggle kids were marching to attend a Swapo rally in Ongwediva over the weekend.
Accused 10, Johannes Malumbu, faces an additional charge of discharging a firearm in a public place, while another of the accused, Maria Martin, is additionally charged with common assault. Martin stands accused of hitting a police officer with a stone during the commotion. Police sources said the victim was slightly injured.
According to the charges presented before court, the 14 also set fire to and damaged at least one building.
The State opposed bail on grounds that if the suspects are granted bail they may interfere with ongoing police investigations and there is also a fear they will continue to put the public interest in jeopardy by further disturbing the peace.
The State thus objected to bail in the matter, pending the finalisation of the investigation, which is still at a preliminary stage and because the offences are serious. The accused persons were, however, advised to submit a formal bail application. The accused persons are Selma Makili, Veronika Iipinge, Monica Nghiningwasha, Maria Martin, Abraham Immanuel, Timoteus Kamati, Alpheus Nghipandulwa, Simon Silas, Irene Bonifatius, Johannes Malumbu, Natalia Kalondo, Andjamba Veino, Tobias Max and Josia Hosia.
Before court proceedings started some of the protesters denied having caused any public violence.
They said they were on their way to a Swapo rally when police officers, including members of the Special Reserve Force, reportedly blocked them, a move which ended in confrontation.
The accused also appealed to the court to assist them in retaining their money and identification documents, which were allegedly confiscated by the police during their arrest.
Court A was full to capacity with fellow struggle kids, who had come to show solidarity. Sounds of people weeping could be heard in the audience as the 14 made their way to the dock. Outside it was also crowded, as the court could not accommodate everyone. There was also more police movement than usual, with exhaustive body-searching of people upon entrance.
Magistrate Makapa Simasiku remanded the matter to December. Prosecutor Rheinhard Alfred Jacobs represented the State.
Meanwhile, the struggle kids camping at the Swapo’s regional office in Oshana have threatened to boycott local and regional elections on Friday. Instead, they say they will embark on a journey to return to their “homeland” in Angola, where the majority of them were born.
Speaking to New Era, the struggle kids said they will cross the border via the Oshikango Border Post on Friday, while the rest of the country goes to the polls. If denied access to Angola, they threatened to camp at the borders until such time as they are allowed to cross.
“We’re not going to vote. We’re going back home where we were born, and if we are refused entry we will camp at the border,” said Tuhafeni Nhinda, one of the group leaders. Nhinda said their return was not triggered by the conflict between them and the police on Sunday.
“This is something that we have planned and we have written letters to the Angolan Embassy,” he said. Asked whether they have a place to stay in Angola, some of the unemployed youth said life in Namibia is not very different.
“We can also go sleep in the tents in Angola,” shouted one.