The two arested suspects in the Chinatown counterfeit protest case have pleaded not guilty to all charges saying they did not violate any laws as they were excercising their democratic rights of protesting against social injustice as provided by the constitution.
Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Michael Amushelelo testified during their formal bail hearing in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Nauyoma, who faces charges of incitement of public violence and public violence adamantly refuted the charges saying that his appearance at a picketing line in Windhoek’s Chinatown was not to incite violence as alleged by the State but to create awareness as part of his social justice ideology and activism.
He said his actions were prompted by an article in The Namibian newspaper with the headline; ‘Order With Me Goods Destroyed’ and the remarks of inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga who said, “the police will hunt down Michael Amushelelo.”
He said his action of protesting was to send out a strong message to the relevant authority and lawmakers to act accordingly.
“Our action has already made an impact in the country now as it has sent out a strong message to the lawmakers who have now started arranging for the meetings to see how best they can amicably resolve the matter,” he said.
He explained that the constitution has made provisions for the members of the public to protest against injustice and that is exactly what he and the rest were caught doing at the picketing line because there was a social injustice of counterfeit goods burnt by the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) that were confiscated from black people while the same goods were found at Chinatown.
“We had a social justice responsibility as activists and we ultimately carried out our ideology and created awareness at the protests to make sure that those who are suppressed will not be suffocated by law before a group of police officers scrambled to arrest us,” he explained.
He further indicated that he and the rest of the group were not armed and he communicated to the police through the only microphone he was carrying that they were not having any intention of destruction and violence.
“I sat there with no arm, no destruction and violence. But in a blink of an eye, I saw teargas sprayed and six to 10 police officers scramble to pick me up and throw me in the van. I sat to demonstrate that I was not violent and I stood for protesting against social injustice,” he explained.
Nauyoma further explained that during his arrest, his right was not explained to him and he was not informed that he was under arrest.
“I only came to learn that I am arrested through lawyer Henry Shimutwikeni after six hours when the other six suspects were taken to be charged that I will remain in custody as I was arrested,” he explained.
He added that he was also just informed of his charge on Sunday at the Windhoek Correctional Service where he is being detained.
He said being born to both Plan fighter parents, he has the best understanding of the struggle of the people and that is what prompted him to stand up for social injustice.
Warrant officer Lisias Nakanyala, a criminal investigative officer at Katutura Police station testified as a State witness and said he will object to the bail of the two because it is not in the best interest of administrative justice and public interest as well as that they fear that the two will commit a similar offence.
Meanwhile, during Michael Amushelelo’s cross-examination, State prosecutor Arrie Hasselman mentioned his previous convictions, stating that the activist had been sentenced in 2014 for culpable homicide after killing someone in a fatal car accident.
Amushelelo was sentenced to two years in jail or a fine of N$2 000 in the case, to which he opted to pay the fine.
Husselman summarised that while being convicted in one case already, the activist has two new cases, one from 2019, which deals with his alleged illegal forex trading activities and the most recently, involving the incitement of public violence and assault through threat in Chinatown.
Husselman argued that if released from custody, the chances of Amushelelo committing the same offences are good.
Amushelelo, however, refuted this and added that he is innocent until proven guilty, stating that he merely went to Chinatown to protest and raise awareness.
The bail hearing will continue today.