ON a day when Namibians are supposed to celebrate their Valentine many people concerned with a recent spate of brutalities against children are expected to unleash a firestorm of protest against the perpetrators of these heinous acts.
Women who are generally perceived the weaker sex have also fallen victim to recent acts of brutality that include rape and murder, and Windhoek residents are expected to express their outrage at this violence that has left many sectors of our society highly traumatised and speechless because of the sheer level of this brutality.
Indeed the nation is still grappling to come to terms with the recent incidents of rape and killings of two young girls, and the clergy will be among those marching today, Valentine's Day, to demand a halt to this uncivilised, savage behaviour.
The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) has organised a peaceful march on violence especially against children in the wake of these horrors that took place at Tamariskia in Swakopmund and in Katutura in Windhoek.
Six-year-old Racheel Hamutundu was found dead last week at the coastal town, two days after she was reported missing from her parents' home at around 19h00.
A forensic examination revealed that before the child was murdered she was raped. The police at the coast have since arrested a suspect, who sang like a canary as he confessed to his crimes and he remains in custody without a bail option.
On Thursday, the body of another girl identified as four-year-old Manuela Sofia Hoesemas was found with her underwear stuffed in her mouth in one of the rooms of the old Katutura Cinema Complex in Katutura.
It was reported that Manuel went missing from her home on Tuesday and was found dead some 300 m from where she went missing. Some reports suggested the little girl appeared to have been strangled with her mouth apparently stuffed with her underwear.
CCN General Secretary, Reverend Nangula Kathindi, said in a press statement that the protest march is to highlight the violence against women and children as could be attested by recent acts of brutality.
The march is aimed at informing the nation, particularly wayward men, to change their behaviour, said Kathindi.
The march will start at 12h00 from Hoesemas House near the cinema hall along Independence Avenue and proceed towards the Parliamentary Gardens where it would conclude with a series of prayers.
This coincides with a statement by White Ribbon Camping Namibia, which says it's time men stood up to show their displeasure with such actions.
Charles Simakumba said on Friday: "We want to see men demonstrating because if more men come out the culprits will be afraid."
He said silence on the part of men looked like they condoned the crime and were promoting it.
Based on the old adage "Set a thief to catch a thief," Simakumba said Namibian men needed to be involved to reduce the rate of violence against women and children.
"We are equally concerned. We don't know what is going on in the minds of men," he added.
Similary, organisations like Women Support Women in Windhoek adamantly state that the time for talking is long gone and all that should follow is practical action.
"There's now an urgent need for more visible awareness campaigns. We need to create more support groups for the victims and bereaved families and even regular prayer sessions as well," said Namises. She reiterated the need to lobby that existing laws like that on rape and domestic violence be made more applicable to the lives of all Namibians.
As a human rights activist Namises did not call for the death penalty, but rather sees it as the last resort. "As Namibians we still need to try and lobby more vigorously as a collective responsibility against crime, especially against vulnerable groups in society. Compulsory educational training in prison must also be given to those found guilty of such crimes, because they must realise that what they've done is wrong," explained Namises.
Sharing this sentiment is Director of Women's Action for Development Veronica de Klerk who added that the fight against the abuse of women and children is becoming ever stronger, especially in light of the growing fear of becoming infected with HIV. Yet at the same time traditional values in society get looked down upon as child rape and murders become frequent incidents in the country.
"Something is terribly wrong in our society. There is still this mentality that through having intercourse with infants you'll apparently be cured from HIV/Aids, which is not true," said De Klerk. Most women activists called for more to be done to expose the criminal deeds of the perpetrators to the rest of society. It is only in this way that a process of psychological healing can start in the minds of both the victim and perpetrator.
De Klerk further called for stiffer sentences for those found guilty of rape and murder. "How do 20 years imprisonment for stock theft compare to the much lesser years for rape or murder?" questions De Klerk. By the look of things these social evil calls for an urgent national response.
Chairperson of Namibia's Men for Action (Namec) Ngeno Nakamela has equally found it difficult to understand what the country has of late been faced with.
Considering that, indeed, a lot has been said condemning such inhuman acts, Nakamela indicated that as small as the Namibian population is, the society has totally failed to learn how to live with one another and value life.
Namec was created with the idea that men should be able to talk about their manhood, but they have failed to utilise this platform.
"As chairman of Namec, he feels workshops that would involve pastors, teachers, traditional leaders, and all the influential people in society should be conducted.
He could not think of the best punishment for the culprits indicating that the changing of the mindset should be the main focus.
"These are people who cannot be said to be uncivilised because even the civilised are doing it.. We need to teach people values."
And in a High Mass service in the Anglican cathedral of Saint the Martyr in the capital, Reverend Noleen West implored the faithful to join en-masse the planned march starting midday today (Monday) from the head offices of the CCN in Abraham Mashego Street in the Katutura township. Specifically, she advised that the clergy be dressed in their clerical outfits and garments to demonstrate the church's concern in what is an ever increasing scourge on women and children. It was a compliant congregation that filled the church to its maximum with praises like this 18th century hymn:
" The Lord of father and mankind
"Forgive our foolish ways
"Recloth us in our rightful mind
"In purer lives they service find
"In deeper reverence praise."
New Era (Windhoek)
February 15, 2005
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