When cops become the custodians for tradition and culture

Namibian Police Inspector General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, clearly was abusing his position to impose his personal sense of morality and decency onto citizens by threatening to broaden police action against women who he perceives to be clad “indecently.” This follows the arrest of some 40 women in Rundu for wearing “hot pants” earlier. Inspector General Ndetunga threatens to extend the measures to arrest women throughout the country who are wearing “revealing” clothes, because “…it (the clothes) should be within our [sic] tradition.” 

What law gives top cop Sebastian Ndeitunga the authority to threaten women with arrest for wearing miniskirts or shorts? We would also like to know whose culture the good cop is referring to when he talked about the “need to underline the importance of culture..” Who made him the spokesperson for culture in our multi-cultural society? What about his threat that “those who are behaving outside the normal tradition of an African will be dealt with?” Does he include those people who are visiting our country and continent, therefore do not understand the subtleties of his so-called “normal tradition of an African?’ for surely not every person in this country knows what is meant with normal African tradition.

It seems that Inspector General Ndeitunga needs to first learn that Africa is not a country, definitely not a homogenous and singular “culture” or “tradition” as he is suggesting in his statement.

There were already reports of police harassment in Windhoek of a young girl simply dressed in shorts by a police woman, because the police woman thought that the child’s shorts were “bad.” (the irony of the demin shorts, J. Asheeke, The Namibian 15 Feb. 2013.) Perhaps police officers should focus more on arresting women batterers and potential murderers than imposing their personal sense of “decency” onto women.