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Amushelelo on prison life and hoping for freedom

Incarcerated social activist and investment scheme operator Michael Amushelelo (MA), who is facing multiple court cases, has expressed his hope to be released from prison to continue advocating social and political causes.

He is currently in jail since Independence Day on 21 March over a protest against unemployment.

He will hear the outcome of his bail appeal on 14 August.

He appeared in the Windhoek High Court yesterday, where he fought for the return of his properties which were attached in connection with allegations of running a Ponzi scheme with his business partner Gregory Cloete.

Kelvin Chiringa (KC) was granted access to engage Amushelelo on various issues.

KC: Michael, how have you been?

MA: I have been great. Apart from the winter, I have been hearing of deaths due to malnutrition and hunger. So, that has not gone down well with me. I also hear about people having their firewood taken from them. I understand that there is an issue where someone comes with a bag of mahangu and it’s confiscated, so I do not really understand what’s going on in this country.

These are some of the things that do not allow me to sleep at night.

KC: At some point you were in solitary confinement. What was that like?

MA: It pushes you to limits you do not realise you can be pushed to as a human being. It is not human-like to be alone. It wasn’t easy.
But at the same time, I am grateful for the experience, because I can now say I am a new person.

I have gotten to experience who I am. You start having deep meaningful conversations with yourself. Obviously, the attempt was to break me, which failed. I’ve only gotten sharper and smarter. That’s what I can say about solitude.

KC: You have been reading quite a number of black consciousness books, are you still doing that?

MA: Yes, prison is more like university time. It’s time for you to educate yourself, to sharpen your skills and basically improve on yourself. So, I take it as a vacation. Nothing else.

It’s time for me to relax, because if I am not running to Rundu to whip the owner of a service station, then I am in the south to fight police officers who have beaten a child to death.

If that’s not the case then I am at Walvis Bay because somebody committed suicide. So, this is the only time I will ever get to rest.
Obviously, the official time for me to rest is when they will say ‘rest in peace’, but for now, I have to make use of the time to obviously reflect on my life.

KC: Do you miss your family and the outside life?

M.A: I mostly miss my wife. Yes, friends here and there, but my wife the most I would say.

KC: How is your friendship with your business partner, Gregory Cloete? Has it been tested through trials and tribulations?

MA: Who is Gregory Cloete? I’m kidding. I mean, I have known Greg since 2004. That’s almost 19 years now.

The bond has only grown stronger. It is through times like these that you get to understand who stands with to you and who doesn’t.

I am truly grateful for his friendship. It’s rare in this age to have that type of friendship.

KC: Have you lost some friends?

MA: I have lost so many friends. There is a saying life will sieve out the bad and leave the good. So, the bad has been sieved out of my life, and only the good has remained.

I’ve learnt from a very young age to keep my circle small. Too many friends means you don’t really have friends.

KC: Do you feel let down and deserted by the people you have represented?
MA: When you have been given a purpose and a calling, you do not rely on people. You rely on the universe to assist you and where it is that you need to direct your people.

We are not all the same, and we do not have the same understanding, courage and strength. It’s not to say that people have deserted me. People are just people.

One day they are there, the next day they are not there, but does that mean you desert your mission? The people need someone to lead them.

KC: And finally, if you get out of prison, would you do anything differently?

M.A: It is my conviction that injustice in this country cannot continue. People are being exploited on a daily basis.

The whole system has been built on the premise of exploitation, and that cannot continue.

Many of our people are still not enjoying the fruits of this country’s independence.