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Malema’s EFF calls for Amushelelo’s release from prison

A South African political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by Julius Malema, yesterday condemned what it calls “the vicious, inhumane and continued incarceration of one of our Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), Michael Amushelelo, for leading a protest against unemployment”.

“While the EFF acknowledges the court’s function, we are of the belief that an individual who was advocating for the marginalised and voiceless shouldn’t be subjected to prolonged incarceration or face multiple rejections of bail applications in this manner, as if they have committed a harmful crime,” the EFF said.

This comes as Amushelelo said on social media yesterday that he has embarked on a hunger strike to protest his incarceration and the lack of support from those on whose behalf he acts.

However, deputy commissioner Veikko Armas, the officer in charge of Windhoek Correctional Facility, said the activist is not on a hunger strike.

Armas said the picture posted with Amushelo’s Facebook update must have been taken yesterday at court, where he could have gained access to a cellphone.

“He is not on hunger strike, I engaged him [yesterday] morning […] he never mentioned that he was going on any hunger strike. He was in court today [Thursday]; that picture must have been taken there because I know that’s how he was dressed. No prisoners are allowed mobile phones at the correctional facilities, he must have had got the phone at the court,” Armas said.

Amushelelo said in his social media update that if his life meant anything to anyone, there would be thousands of people in front of the prison gates every day demanding his release.

“I have embarked on a hunger strike, and I only have one demand and that is my freedom.

“I will remain on a hunger strike until I have obtained my freedom. If I have to die in order to attain my freedom, then so shall it be, the way I see it, the government can either start preparing my release from prison or my death certificate, but either way I refuse to continue being a political prisoner,’’ Amushelelo says in the statement.

The EFF claimed “it is appa­rent that his detention is aimed at preventing his engagement in political activities, and the rallying of people to fight for better conditions in Namibia”.

The party commented: “As things stand, Amushelelo has undergone a hunger strike to protest against the conditions he is being subjected to, which are unfair and clearly politically motivated.

“The EFF calls on the Namibian government to review and look into what is clearly political persecution, and calls on the international community to take notice of what may possibly be a human rights violation,” the party said.

Amushelelo has been in custody since March, after he was arrested alongside social activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Popular Democratic Movement member of parliament Inna Hengari.

Their arrests came after their involvement in organising a nationwide protest against youth unemployment on Independence Day.
Amushelelo and Nauyoma face charges including public violence, incitement to public violence and malicious damage to property.

While Hengari and Nauyoma were granted bail of N$5 000 each, a bail appeal by Amushelelo was rejected in the Windhoek High Court last month.

The case against Hengari has since been withdrawn.

Amushelelo has instructed his legal counsel, Kadhila Amoomo, to appeal to the Supreme Court to be released.

Amushelelo and a business partner, Gregory Cloete, are also due to be prosecuted in connection with allegedly having operated a Ponzi scheme, in which money was solicited from investors lured by promises of high returns, with investors’ funds allegedly not invested as promised, but instead used to pay back earlier investors’ money and finance a luxurious lifestyle for Amushelelo.