Charge filed against alleged racist engineer

by Maria Amakali

Windhoek

A case of racism was filed yesterday at Windhoek Central Police station against an engineer who in September precipitated a firestorm of criticism after he reportedly refused to offer an internship to a black female Namibian engineering student, purportedly on the basis of her race.

The Namibia Society of Engineers (NASE) also reiterated its request to the the Engineering Council of Namibia to permanently remove Alwyn Strauss from the register of council.



“Considering the gravity of the allegations against Mr Alwyn Strauss, I ask that the council permanently remove him from the register of council,” said Charles Mukwaso from NASE.

Engineer Alwyn Strauss made headlines in September after allegations of racial discrimination were levelled against him. Strauss had apparently refused to supervise engineering graduate Ankita Ndakukamo, on the basis she is black and should be mentored by her fellow blacks.

At the time he said he never undertook mentorship under anyone and that government wanted white people out of the country.

“With much admiration and respect I contacted Mr Strauss, as in my opinion he could be regarded as pioneer in the field of geotechnical engineering in Namibia… [but] he refused professional mentorship for those reasons,” said Ndakukamo.

It is alleged Strauss is the only person in the country qualified to give professional mentorship in the field of geotechnical engineering. With assistance from NASE, Ndakukamo on Wednesday filed a criminal case against Alwyn Strauss with the Namibian police.

“He should be convicted, as he violated section 14 of the Racial Discrimination Prohibition Act 26 of 1991. If certain individuals or organisations keep subscribing to ancient racist tactics to block Namibians from answering the nation’s call to fill the gap in the field of engineering, then such individuals are doing a serious damage to government’s efforts,” said Mukwaso.

Ndakukamo said she is trying to reach her full potential as a practicing engineer and the conduct of Strauss seriously affected her career. “No graduate engineer or Namibian should ever experience this kind of prejudice in the country and we hope that the authorities will do something about this issue and endure that it never gets repeated again,” said Mukwaso.

When Ndakukamo’s legal team was asked whether it was legal to record Alwyn Strauss without his knowledge, the said: “We’re here for the purpose of laying a charge with my client against Mr Alwyn Strauss and we will not discuss the evidence,” said Shimutwikeni.

The telephonic conversation between Strauss and Ndakukamo was recorded and is bound to be the only piece of evidence that indicates whether Strauss used racial and sexist terms during their conversation on August 26.
Contacted for comment, a reluctant yet calm Strauss said only: “I’m not going to discuss this matter with the media as the matter has already been dealt with.”

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