WINDHOEK, 09 AUG – What was to be a peaceful student demonstration against the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation yesterday, turned sour after some students were “forcefully removed from the premises and brutally chased by the lawmakers.”
Following those events, students from various institutions of higher learning, along with their representative, the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO), have vowed to seek legal assistance against some Namibian Police Force members of the Special Reserve Force.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, NANSO president Ester Simon said student rights had been violated.
“We are heartbroken and saddened by how our rights have been violated and with that, we are already in the process of looking for legal assistance through our young lawyers and prosecutors,” she said at a press conference today,
She said NANSO would not condone violence against their peers and therefore wanted to assure themselves future protection in case of a recurrence of Wednesday’s events.
The students also indicated they would no longer engage directly with Higher Education Minister, Itah Kandjii-Murangi as they were now “afraid and worried” about what might happen next time they do.
“The minister is to be blamed for what transpired [Wednesday], as she refused to address our plights, instead she communicated to us saying she will meet us when the time is right, and we are very dissatisfied with this response,” NANSO vice president Bernhard Kavai said.
Some 300 students petitioned Kandjii-Murangi, demanding her assurance that a 2015 contract between students and the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund stipulating the payment of 100 per cent of tuition fees and 80 per cent of non-tuition fees, be honoured.
However, after hours of trying to negotiate with the minister, they were forcefully removed from the building and some reportedly assaulted after they refused to clear the area.
“We believe that our actions were all lawful and not illegal, as it was according to the law and all procedures. We are now traumatised and some of us even require psychological help after that event,” Kavai said.
The students labelled the incident “a sorrowful day for students in the Namibian history”, adding that innocent civilians were also involved in the alleged attacks and deserve an apology.
Despite the happenings, the students remain adamant that they deserve the response they seek from the minister as soon as possible.
*Additional reporting by NAMPA