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Hofni Seeking Justice After Shooting

Hafeni Shooya
Hofni Shooya in front of his home.

In a field blistered with broken glass and rock, a young man twitched in unconsciousness. From his right leg blood oozed from a gaping bullet hole.

Until now, 25 -year-old Hofni Shooya had always lived on hope.

He had traveled far from his northern Namibia home and was now living on the outskirts of Windhoek, where he dreamed of a better life. This was a place where he could watch his son grow up, a place where he could finally find stability with his girlfriend, he thought.

Soon, like many other young men his age, he joined a group of men who wait along the grassy roadside at a designated City Council unemployment site. Each morning, he would trek downtown where he would sit by the side of the street, hoping someone might stop with an offer of a job weeding a garden, painting or washing a car. There were days when he would get work, when he would have enough money to fill his stomach. Yet, there were other times when hope would wear thin.

The week of March 11, 2006 Hofni leaped up as a car finally pulled over. When he saw the police car markings and the uniformed officers emerge, his heart sunk. The officers fired questions, demands and threats. Soon, some of the young unemployed men were being loaded into the backseat of the police cruiser.

This had happened before. Since the establishment of the Windhoek city police in 2005, there had been a public outcry about their members, the public saying that instead of doing community service, the police were harassing members of society¹.

Once, Hofni had been arrested and dragged down to the police station for standing at the designated employment bureau before. That time he was locked in jail for a week. So when the police arrived on March 11, Hofni tried to leave the scene.

“l didn't do anything. Why should I go to the police station?” he remembers.

Hofni ran into the empty field behind him. But two officers noticed and chased him through a dry riverbed and into a middle class neighbourhood. A police car drove around the riverbed and blocked Hofni's way forward. The two officers stood behind him.

“I was cornered,” he says. "There was no warning."

Bullets were fired. Hofni fell into the grass and the gunman approached. With a few kicks, the figure reached into Hofni's pocket, pulled out his wallet, turned and walked away. Soon thereafter, Hofni's eyes fluttered and he lost consciousness.

“I didn't know what happened,” Hofni replies when asked if he thought he was going to die. "It was two hours before someone stopped to take me the hospital," he says.

Later, doctors announced that Hofni's femur was shattered. After months of lying in a hospital bed, doctors told him that his right leg was beyond recovery, it would have to be amputated. LAC's director Norman Tjombe remembers learning about Hofni's situation and visiting him in Katutura State Hospital.

“He was in a tremendous amount of pain,” Tjombe says. “That was six months after the shooting and his leg had not yet been amputated."

Launching a suit against the Windhoek City Police, the Legal Assistance Centre is arguing that the police do not have the right to fire at someone unarmed. "We have a Constitution that guarantees the right to life, dignity and integrity " Tjombe points out.

To support cases like Hofni's click here.
Or email the lawyer dealing with this matter.

Read about other people the LAC is assisting

1 - Sibeene, P., 2006. City Police Allegedly Harass Job Seekers, New Era newspaper, March 17.

Last update: March 2008