Police eventually had to use teargas to control the violent standoff.
As the RDP convoy of vehicles entered Outapi at around 12h00 from Okalongo, they were confronted by about 200 Swapo supporters. However, the RDP rally proceeded, despite efforts by Swapo supporters to disrupt it. The rally ended at about 16h30. Later though, all hell broke loose when the RDP convoy of cars prepared to leave Outapi. Swapo supporters lined up on both sides of the road, stoning cars as they drove past.
According to the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), Phil ya Nangoloh, the RDP supporters could no longer take the strongman tactics of Swapo supporters and retaliated, hurling stones back at their attackers. During the ensuing fracas, supporters of both political parties sustained injuries from flying stones.
The ever advancing Swapo supporters were driven back by the Police with teargas and rubber batons.
According to Ya Nangoloh, at around 18h30 about 100 RDP vehicles made it as far as Oshikuku and were parked at a bridge 500 metres west of the town. Ya Nangoloh said the convoy was stopped on the instructions of Police Regional Regional Commander of Oshana, Commissioner Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa, as Police first had to clear a passage for them towards Oshakati because a crowd of Swapo supporters had been waiting to obstruct them.
The Omusati Region, in which Outapi is situated, has seen a number of skirmishes and political standoffs between RDP and Swapo members.
Last week signs of impending election violence could be detected when hordes of school children drove RDP organisers out of Okahao town. During this incident on Wednesday, Police had their hands full trying to control the rival crowds.
The RDP initially planned their Outapi rally for Saturday, but had to reschedule it to yesterday, as the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), an affiliate of Swapo, was also holding a public meeting at the same time. The NUNW meeting took place without an incident.
Although Swapo did not have a meeting scheduled for Outapi, The Namibian saw Swapo members gathering informally in crowds at the town.
The Namibian also learnt that the regional Swapo leadership had been urging their members at Outapi throughout the weekend not to disrupt the planned RDP meeting. But, the rank and file ignored their pleas and blocked roads leading into Outapi.
There was a strong Police presence at Outapi yesterday. Most Police officers in Omusati were deployed at Outapi in anticipation of possible election violence. Police officers from Oshakati were also dispatched to Outapi yesterday to reinforce the numbers to contain the unruly crowds.
Some of the crowd even ignored Police orders, forcing the law enforcement agents to use teargas. Even after teargas was used, the Swapo crowds would not stand down and stoned the convoy of cars that were leaving Outapi. Vehicles were smashed and RDP supporters stoned.
The Namibian was unable to establish how many people were injured, and how seriously, by the time of going to press, nor the extent of the damage to vehicles.Post published in: Uncategorized