Chaos erupted in Windhoek on Friday as protesters clashed with police who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Namibia Economic Freedom Fighter (NEFF) protesters blocking the entrance to China Town.
The incident follows the arrest of NEFF political activist Micheal Amushelelo, who closed shops in China Town the previous day, claiming they were selling counterfeit products.
Vendors and protesters ran in different directions breathlessly, with a pregnant woman also injured in the crossfire.
Several protesters, including NEFF leader Epaphras Mukwiilongo, were arrested and taken to Windhoek police station.
During the protest, the Deputy Inspector General of the Namibian Police Force, Joseph Shikongo, said activist Dimbulukeni “Dee” Nauyoma of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement insulted the Inspector General of the Namibian Police Force and threatened to burn down China Town following Amushelelo’s actions on Thursday.
Shikongo explained that the buildings in China Town belong to the Republic of Namibia and are guarded by the police.
“The management of public contracts cannot be negotiated. We asked them to disperse, the people who made threats refused to leave, so we gave them a countdown,” Shikongo replied when asked about civilians hit by tear gas and rubber bullets.
“Unfortunately, I understand that some people were victims of tear gas. What were pregnant women doing to a group that wanted to burn down China Town,” Shikongo said, adding that police had asked protesters to leave but were refusing orders.
At the time, Shikongo could not confirm the number of protesters arrested, adding that he could not say what charges were against them.