WINDHOEK: The Namibian Police Force (NamPol) say they will not tolerate any disorder or disruptions of the Red Flag Day commemoration planned by the faction under OvaHerero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako for this coming weekend.
NamPol Inspector-General, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga said the police will be out in full force at Okahandja this coming weekend during the commemoration event by the faction led by Chief Riruako to make sure that law and order are maintained and respected at all times during the event.
The NamPol chief issued the stern warning at a media briefing held at the police headquarters here on Wednesday after the group under Riruako obtained a court interdict from the Windhoek High Court allowing them to go ahead with the commemoration of the event at Okahandja, some 68 kilometres north of Windhoek, this coming weekend.
The group has also informed the police of their plans to hold the event at Okahandja on 31 August and 01 September this year in writing.
“The group led by Chief Kuaima Riruako, recognising that NamPol is there to maintain law and order in the country, requested the police to facilitate security arrangements for the holding of of their gathering by this group to ensure maximum peace and tranquility before, during and after the commemorations,” the police chief explained.
Ndeitunga told people attending the media briefing that ‘the Namibian Police Force has a duty to ensure that such assemblies are conducted in an orderly and lawful manner, and said it is against this background that the police agreed to provide security at the commemoration in order to allow the group to have a peaceful gathering on Friday and Saturday.
He further stressed that members of NamPol are not siding with any of the opposing OvaHerero groups – the one led by Chief Riruako or the other under the leadership of the Maharero Royal House and supported by members of the Technical Committee of the OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu Council on the 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904).
“The dispute on the commemoration of Red Flag Day between the two groups is of a civil nature which is beyond the mandate of the Namibian Police Force. We are independently concerned with fulfilling our constitutional mandate, which is the maintenance of law and order,” the police chief charged.
Ndeitunga also cautioned members of the public and supporters of the two opposing groups to refrain from making “divisive, tribalistic and politically motivated” comments in the local media, including the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)’s Otjiherero Radio Service, with regards to the commemoration of the day.
“These divisive, tribalistic and politically motivated comments by members and supporters of either group are tantamount to incitement of violence, which cannot be tolerated in a free and democratic Namibia. Therefore, I would like to make it clear that NamPol will not tolerate a situation that may deprive our people from peaceful co-existence in their own country,” the Inspector-General noted.
The police chief also in his personal capacity and on behalf of the force called upon the two opposing groups to come together, discuss their differences, and find a lasting solution to the dispute for the sake of “unity, peace, safety, security, cultural heritage and respect to fallen Namibian heroes and heroines, as well as the country’s ancestors”.
The main disagreement between the two groups for holding of separate commemorations is the location of the ‘holy fire’ at the Red Flag Commando Grounds in Okahandja, which the faction under the instruction of Paramount Chief Riruako allegedly relocated to a place where it now faces the sunset.
Meanwhile, the Maharero Royal House, supported by members of OCD-1904, insists that the ‘holy fire’ should face the sunrise (east).
Hundreds of OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu people from all walks of life each year converge upon Okahandja for the Red Flag Commemoration, where they honour their dead chiefs and heroes/heroines.
The group led by the Maherero Royal House is expected to hold an event at Okahandja at a later stage.