Police fire rubber bullets at Walvis land grabbers

10 May 2017 15:10pm
WALVIS BAY, 10 MAY (NAMPA) – Seven people were reportedly injured by rubber bullets fired by the Namibian Police during an eviction from municipal plots at Walvis Bay on Tuesday.
Some of the injured are illegal occupants of the plots while others were legally settled on a neighbouring plot.
Nampa established that three women were also arrested for public violence and resisting police orders.
They appeared in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, when they were denied bail and advised to apply for formal bail.
More than 100 landless people last week illegally seized two plots, saying they have no place to stay.
They also said they were tired of renting backyard shacks with no toilets or electricity that cost them more than N.dollars 1 000 a month.
On Wednesday, Nampa found Virginia Vahongaifa, one of the people injured, lying in pain in her shack.
Vahongaifa said she is legally settled, but police officers shot her on both feet while crossing from the seized plots to her home.
“I am not part of those people, I do not know why the police shot me. Now I cannot walk or go sell food to feed my children,” she told Nampa.
After the eviction, the group packed cardboards and put up small tents on the road next to the plots where they were evicted.
They are now sleeping in the open or in tents with their children.
Nehale LyaMpingana, a legal occupant who is assisting those evicted, said he is running around looking for bigger tents to accommodate those sleeping in the open.
LyaMpingana, who was hit by a rubber bullet on one of his legs, also threatened to lay charges of assault against the police.
On Wednesday, the same group led by community activist Kenneth Iilonga, marched to the municipality to deliver a petition regarding the injuries and eviction.
The petition also requested the town authority to allow them temporary occupation on those plots.
“While we are waiting for the municipality to provide land, we suggest they stay there. We also suggest that residential land sales be halted until these people get land,” Iilonga said.
Municipality Chief Executive Officer Muronga Haingura declined to comment on the petition when approached by Nampa, saying he would issue a statement by Thursday.
NamPol Erongo Regional Commander, Commissioner Andreas Nelumbu said the rubber bullets were used because the land grabbers threw stones at the police.
“One was even trying to put petrol in a bottle I suspect in an attempt to make a bomb and throw at the police vehicle.”
He said the police have proof of such violence and are ready to face the protestors in court should they lay charges.
“In fact, once we get the eviction order, we will still remove them from that road where they are now,” Nelumbu said, adding that it is the police’s duty to keep law and order.
“Despite their situation, what can we do, of course we cannot allow lawlessness,” the commissioner said.