After having given written approval of public gathering to Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) a week earlier, the new Regional Police Commander in Caprivi Strip, Mr. Karel Theron told CCG leaders on the morning of the meeting, Sunday 11 June 2017, that he will not allow CCG to use the municipal hall or any government property for the meeting.

CCG leaders were surprised to find two armed police officers at the venue’s gate who demanded receipt from Town Council as proof that the venue is paid for, before the activists could be allowed in. Comedy began when the proof was produced. The constables called their senior, a Warrant Officer, and informed him that they saw the reciept, but the senior officer told them that he would want to come and see it also. He came, he saw it and called his senior as well informing him that he had seen the proof too. His senior also demanded to see the reciept, so the Warrant Officer drove to his senior’s house to go and show him the proof.

The later senior is probably the Station Commander of Katima Mulilo police station. He took a photo of the receipt and sent it to his senior as well, the Regional Commander via WhatsApp. However, the Regional Commander also demanded to physically see the reciept, and it was taken to his home just to see it. Then the Regional Commander later came at the venue and said CCG should make arrangements for refund from Katima Mulilo Town Council because he will not allow the meeting to be held in the said venue or any government property.

It must be noted that CCG held two meetings with the said Regional Commander a week before the scheduled date for public meeting where the purpose of the meeting and procedures or issues of approval were discussed with him. He is the one who handed the approval and conditions for the meeting from the Inspector General, Sabastian Ndeitunga, to CCG leaders in the Regional Police Boardroom. Even the covering letter to which a copy of conditions was attached was signed by Theron himself, and the conditions were signed by Sabastian Ndeitunga, dated 2nd of June 2017.

There are more than five conditions given, and they included inter alia that organizers or participants should not come to the meeting with any kind of weapon, which includes knives, sticks, etc. CCG accepted the conditions, and was sure to comply. Surprisingly, the same police came to the public meeting venue on the day of the day to verbally prevent what they approved in writing in the first place. CCG suspects that the police approved the meeting and demanded organizers or participants (through conditions) to be defenceless, that is, not to come with any weapon, to come and physically harm or kill the defenseless organizers and attendants had they insisted to enter the said venue. Why did they approve the meeting in the first place which they knew they would prevent later? Why did they order us not to come with any weapon when they knew they would stand at the gate with riffles to prevent us from entering a premises we paid for to use?

It must be noted that Commissioner Theron was a senior Police Officer Caprivi Strip in 1999 and he is, like one of his deputies Mr. Evans Simasiku, most probably one of those who harassed and tortured our parents and brothers in 1999. It is also likely that he also knows the mass grave where seven Caprivian men were buried somewhere around Katima Mulilo. It is strange that the were recently appointed to higher ranks from other areas to Caprivi Strip as Regional Commander and Deputy Regional Commander respectively.

Nonetheless, CCG decided to conduct the planned public meeting outside the municipal hall despite having paid to use the hall and having spend money to hire a Public Address system and digital overhead projector. Around two hundred people accepted to sit in the sun, on the ground and be addressed by CCG. They sang freedom songs and shouted slogans as an indication that they are determined to liberate Caprivi Strip from Namibia’s illegal occupation. Commissioner Theron, the Station Commander, and other senior and armed junior police officers observed the event to the end. CCG served them with refreshments at the end of the event but they all refused.image

CCG impressed on the attendants to speak for themselves and stand up for their rights, as the theme for the meeting was “you are your own liberators”. CCG informed the public that there will be a mass demonstration on the 25th of August 2017 to demand a referendum and unconditional release of all Caprivi political prisoners, so they should organise themselves, mobilize many people and come in large numbers to the demonstration on that day.

CCG welcomes the latest development where by Morocco have indicated that it intends to investigate Namibia’s illegal occupation of Caprivi Strip and human rights violations in the strip. Morocco is assured of absolute support from all Caprivians and CCG in particular. Caprivians have the right to self determination, and Namibia is denying them such right by killing, torturing, imprisoning them and denying them basic freedoms such as freedom to assemble peaceably, freedom of speech and expression.

For more information on the message delivered, download the attached keynote speech.

Reported by Edwin M Samati

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