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#ShutItDown activist MIA as movement’s funds go missing

#ShutItDown activist MIA as movement’s funds go missing

Zorena Jantze

 

IN February this year, the Office of the African Union Youth Envoy, with the support of the United Nations Population Fund, awarded a grant in the amount of US$5,000 (about N$75,000) to the #ShutItDown movement for ‘Silencing Gender-Based Violence’.

 

The funds, which were meant to mobilise projects and contribute towards causes relating to Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), however, never reached the movement as one of the organisers, identified as Lebbeus Nghidimondjila Hashikutuva, failed to account for the funds that were reportedly paid in early June.

 

Ndiilo Nthengwe, one of the delegation members of the movement, explained that the movement is currently unable to reach Hashikutuva via his telephone number or email, and that the movement is currently weighing in on every option to repatriate the funds, including opening a police case against him.

 

activist funds missing Office African Union Youth Envoy United Nations Population Fund #ShutItDown movement Gender-Based Violence award
SILENT: Lebbeus Nghidimondjila Hashikutuva. Photo: Facebook

In an attempt to be transparent, the movement last night issued a statement that was shared with a Google Drive link, in which it gives a timeline of everything that transpired, as well as screenshots of correspondences between members and Hashikutuva dating as far back as July.

In the statement, the movement reported that Hashikutuva officially applied for the award on behalf of #ShutItAllDown, and therefore, was privy to any and all updates or progress on the grant.

The #ShutItDown delegation further explained that Hashikutuva, via email correspondences, gave them the impression that there was a delay in the funds being expedited.

His version of events were, however, disproved after the grantor confirmed that the grant money had in fact already been processed and paid on 3 June 2021.

“It took roughly eight months to get the full details of the grant money, and the delegation is still uncertain about where the funds are, nor can we locate any banking details. Nghidimondjila (Hashikutuva) had been notified of payments on 3 June 2021, and had not communicated with the team on this. Nor had he mentioned opening a temporary account to expedite the retrieval of the funds,” the #ShutItDown delegation wrote.

They further explained that between 14 May and 30 July, there was no response from Hashikutuva, until he made contact via email again.

“On the first meeting convened, Nghidimondjila did not communicate on the payment which was already made, instead, led the team to believe that we had urgent documents to submit, meanwhile, he had already opened a ‘temp’ account, and had received the funds. We have not received the bank confirmation letter as communicated, and there is still no response from Nghidimondjila,” the movement further reported.

In the public statement, the movement concludes that the events are disheartening especially in the time that they should be celebrating the #ShutItAllDown first year anniversary.

“We had all hoped to use the funds to truly enact change and program for victims and survivors of SGBV. As a movement, we will continue to strive towards those goals and more, to ensure that we hold state agencies, stakeholders and ourselves accountable on the ways we confront and address the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence in the country,” the ShutItDown delegation members concluded.

Hashikutuva could not be reached for comment at the time of publication as his phone remained off, while text messages were not answered.

He has, however, been active on his Twitter account, although he has not tweeted since 4 October, nor has he publicly addressed the claims against him.

Informanté also tried to reach Hashikutuva at the Office of the First Lady of Namibia, where he worked this year as a volunteer on the #LoveProtects campaign, but learned that he no longer works there.

Hilma Petrus, Executive Assistant at the Office of the First Lady, explained that Hashikutuva stopped working there as a volunteer a month ago.

#ShutItAllDownNamibia, launched in October last year, is a youth led, owned and organised movement demanding radical and substantive action in curbing the prevalence of SGBV in Namibia.

It also describes itself as a movement that addresses structural, political and legal challenges that victims and survivors of SGBV experience daily.

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