Three men, including a politician, have appeared in court after a video of them allegedly abusing a helpless transgender woman went viral in Namibia.
Last month, the country’s LGBTIQ community was outraged over the mobile phone video which shows community leader and politician Frans Migub ǀGoagoseb attacking a 21-year-old woman who is tied to a chair.
He is seen whipping her until she falls to the ground while calling her queerphobic slurs like moffie (a derogatory Afrikaans terms for gay). He continues to beat her with a whip even as she remains on the ground.
It’s been claimed that ǀGoagoseb, who was an unsuccessful presidential candidate for the Namibian Democratic Movement in 2009, attacked the woman after discovering that she is transgender.
With the support of LGBTIQ activists, the woman laid a charge of assault to cause grievous bodily with the police. ǀGoagoseb, 55, along with two others who are alleged to have aided him – Lucas Membenange, 22, and Gerson Kooitjie, 38 – were arrested and appeared in the Gobabis Magistrate’s Court in eastern Namibia last week.
According to the Namibian, the accused were remanded in custody pending a possible bail application. The case has been postponed to 28 July for further investigation.
In a joint statement, the incident was condemned by several human rights groups including Transgender, Intersex and Androgynous Movement of Namibia, Wings to Transcend Namibia, Rights Not Rescue Trust, Namibia Diverse Women’s Association, Y-Fem Namibia, Positive Vibes, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, and Gender Dynamix.
The groups described the incident as a “clear demonstration of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” as outlined in the Namibian Constitution.
They noted that since the video went viral, the survivor has been “subjected to community-wide scrutiny, threats and further discrimination, exacerbating the trauma she currently faces and will continue to face.”
The organisations added: “While the attack was against one person, the video has fuelled an ever-ready onslaught and hate speech directed at the transgender community.”
They called on the Namibian government and the country’s citizens to speak out against human rights abuses, including hate speech harassment and discrimination, against the LGBTIQ community. The media should also “ethically and objectively report on the case by avoiding sensational headlines and misrepresentation of the gender identity/gender expression of members of the transgender community.”
Consensual “sodomy” between men is illegal in Namibia and could be used to prosecute LGBTIQ individuals, although this is not believed to have happened since the country’s independence in 1990.