The Namibia Media Professionals Union (NAMPU) has condemned what it termed as “bullying behaviour and harassment of journalists” by politicians of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM).

In a statement Secretary General of NAMPU Mr Sakeus Iikela said that the union has noted with concern the growing practice of bullying and intimidation of journalists by politicians.

“Incidences of cyberbullying and intimidation of journalists are increasingly becoming a concern in Namibia.

“The latest took place last week when Windhoek mayor and Landless People’s Movement member Sade Shereen Gawanas took to social media to express her views regarding an article in which she appeared which was published by the weekly Confidénte newspaper,” Iikela said.

“While doing so, Gawanas also shared screenshots of the conversation she had with a Confidénte reporter, including the reporter’s private cell phone number – thereby endangering the reporter in question to unwarranted online abuse and harassment.

“As a result, the reporter was subjected to threats and harassment from Gawanas’ supporters and sympathizers.

“As if that was not enough, NAMPU was informed that some senior figures of the LPM even visited the reporter’s workplace – Confidénte – to further intimidate the reporter.”

The media unionist further said that the events which followed Gawanas’ social media post have caused panic to the concerned journalist who is now afraid to do her work freely as she fears being insulted and ridiculed.

“This is concerning especially when online and offline attacks ranging from sexist hate speech and trolling to physical assault, rape and even murder of female journalists are escalating, globally.”

While this is not the first time the LPM leadership has taken issues with journalists to social media, NAMPU regards this as an attempt to intimidate and bully journalists from freely doing their work, Iikela stated.

“NAMPU therefore condemns this bullying behaviour and attempts by politicians to interfere with the work of journalists. The unwarranted attacks on the concerned reporter and on journalists in general are distasteful, malicious, and unacceptable.

“Politicians and especially Gawanas should know better not to expose private information like a cell phone number on social media as she would not like that done to her.

“It is our hope that mayor Gawanas removes the screenshots of her conversation with the Confidénte reporter as this puts her at serious risk of abuse.

“Genuine complaints must be lodged through established procedures as opposed to intimidation and online trolling of journalists.

“NAMPU therefore calls on politicians and public actors to respect the rights and work of journalists and allow them to carry out their work safely, without interference, and free from intimidation or fear of any form of attack.”

In the photo: NAMPU leadership. From left, Edward Mumbuu, Sakeus Iikela, Charmaine Ngatjiheue, Timo Shihepo, and Augeto Graig (absent is Jemima Beukes).