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Racism in Namibia sparks call for tougher laws

07 January 2016, 20:06 Cindy Pierce

Windhoek - While anger is still brewing in the Southern African region over racist comments made by South African estate agent Penny Sparrow, a renewed racial debate has been sparked in Namibia, with many calling for harsher laws on racism, The Namibian has reported.

A recent Facebook post by Namibian Margaretha von Wielligh has created controversy across the country, with much of the public lambasting her for her racist ideologies.

According to a Namibian Sun report, von Wielligh's post, written completely in Afrikaans, loosely translates to "It's too much that we have to share everything with beasts!! Uneducated things!! They don't even know to close a toilet door. Bring back the beautiful words 'Whites Only', in English yes, they understand that".

Amid harsh criticism over her post, von Wielligh has since deleted her Facebook profile.

In a separate incident, Elisenheim Lifestyle Estate resident Monte Engelbrecht sparked fierce opposition after a New Year's Day post that he left on the Elisenheim community Facebook page.

The post, which has since been deleted along with his profile, saw Engelbrecht stating that "one can try to live in a better estate, but once the "disadvantage" moves in, all that was beautiful turns to a pot of shi*$!".

The two incidents have sparked heated debate across the country, with many feeling that stricter laws need to be put in place against acts of racism and tribalism.

Free speech and discriminatory remarks

McHenry Venaani, opposition DTA leader, warned against such utterances, saying that a civil war could break out if a stop is not put to the racism.

Namibia's Racial Discrimination Act of 1991 prohibits the insulting or degrading of individuals based on their race, making it a criminal offence to encourage or incite racial disharmony and hatred between people of different races.

Norman Tjombe, a lawyer, disclosed that the current penalty for those who disobey the law is N$80 000, 15 years jail time or both.

Making his contribution to the debate, Sacky Shanghala, reiterated that there is a thin line between free speech and discriminatory remarks and that people should always be cognisant of this fact.

RDP President Jeremiah Nambinga revealed that although racism is a crime in the country, racial discrimination goes largely unabated across the nation.

Weighing in the debate Police Spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi said that although racism is a crime in the country, officials can only investigate incidents once they have been reported to the relevant authorities.

Members of the public have taken to social media to share their disdain, with some calling for laws against racism to be introduced in South Africa as well.

Read more at The Namibian

- News24


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