Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Last Man Left Standing

Introduction to the Book

“Last Man Standing” refers to the winner in a contest or competition or the sole survivor of an event and it probably has its origin from the expression “Last Man Left Standing”. Recently I was reminded by a friend that I was the “last man left standing” during the last apartheid court case held in the 1980’s, namely the case of Namibia National Students’ Organisation & Others v Speaker of the National Assembly for South West Africa 1990 (1) SA 617 SWA.

Students from the Academy of Namibia (which was the predecessor to both the Namibia University of Science and Technology and the University of Namibia), had held demonstrations against the apartheid regime and were arrested under The Protection of Fundamental Rights Act (No. 16 of 88) that were being used to prevent gatherings of any kind. The students at the Academy had been demonstrating for two days against the establishment of South Africa army bases near to schools, especially in the North, which had led to several reported cases of rape by schoolgirls by army personnel.  A total of thirty-seven students were arrested during the police action against the demonstrators and held without bail for several days. This was challenged by the Legal Assistance Centre and the case was to be heard in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.

During the urgent bail application, a number of students were called to the stand and were put under questioning by the then Prosecutor Richard Metcalfe. The last accused to be questioned before the magistrate recused herself, was Milton Martin Ronald LOUW.
It is also important to note that this specific law was contested by the Namibian National Students Organisation and was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein, South Africa. This legal battle is still used around the world when discussing human rights as it "creates criminal offences for activities which in democratic societies have been perfectly acceptable and legal."

From this court case and my subsequent activism in the areas of social justice and consumer rights, I thought it appropriate to take a look back at the essays I have written that I feel have the most important to say about Namibia after 23 years of Independence.

Milton LouwWindhoek, NAMIBIA 21 March 2013

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