Fake news incites mob to besiege Katutura house

Fake news incites mob to besiege Katutura house

Selma Ikela

Windhoek-Police yesterday pleaded with the media to diffuse a potentially life-threatening situation that saw hundreds of people besiege a Katutura house following a fake news report that accused its occupants of abducting children.

The news report, disseminated through the NBC Otjiherero Radio, falsely accused the occupants of having a fridge containing the frozen body parts of children, who were apparently abducted by the occupants of the house.

News of the fake abductions and the frozen body parts incited a Katutura mob in their hundreds to descend on the house shortly after two boys were detained at the house for breaking its windows. The occupants of the house had merely wanted to ask the parents of the detained kids to pay for the damage they had caused.

Initially members of the police went to the house to defuse the explosive situation but as tensions rose reinforcements from the riot police were called in and they had to use rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd, who retaliated by stoning the police and the house.

The occupants of the house are now living in fear of their lives and have asked the police for protection as they are being unfairly targeted.

What sparked the ugly happenings were rumours spread by people in the neighbourhood that the occupants of the house abducted children, dismembered their bodies, froze them and transported them in black vehicles apparently to Otjimbingwe, where they were apparently used for charms.

The schoolboys accused of throwing stones were brought to the residence after school to prove that no killings had ever taken place at the house and that these were just malicious rumours.

Several residents in the neighbourhood have complained of several incidents of schoolchildren smashing their windows with stones, which prompted many residents to construct high walls around their property.
An occupant whose name the newspaper will not publish, in fear of the person being victimized, said they detain the naughty children and take them to school to trace their parents to inform them of what happened.

A police officer and police vehicle were stoned during the commotion yesterday morning. A young woman who was among the crowd sustained an injury to her eye and sought medical attention at a nearby clinic.
The stoned house was left with a number of broken windows and water pipes. An occupant in the house, a university student who was busy bathing, sustained a cut on her upper arm when the crowd threw a stone through a bathroom window.

Namibian Police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi told the media that a schoolboy, who is approximately seven years old, while on his way to school threw stones at a house but was caught by an occupant of the house, who asked the boy that he take him to his parents.

“In so doing the vendors in the surroundings thought the child was kidnapped and it was reported on air that this child was kidnapped. It is alleged that it is a habit of the owner of this house to sort of kidnap children, cut them up and put them in fridges but it is far from the truth,” said Kanguatjivi.

Nampol Khomas Regional Commander, Commissioner Silvanus Nghishidimbwa added that the police have not received any report of kidnapping or murder relating to any of the children.

“We don’t know what kind of information the reporter had to report to the nation without confirming with the police so that we clarify. People are injured and property is damaged for nothing. How can you rectify a mistake with another mistake? That’s why I am asking the media to rectify this mess that you created, please with the same prominence,” urged Nghishidimbwa.

He further asked if there are any parents whose children were ‘kidnapped’ or ‘killed’ to come forward because so far the police have not received any such complaint.

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