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Rapper Diddy alleges injustice in Namibia

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STAR rapper Sean Combs has joined a social media campaign calling for the release of American citizen Kevan Townsend, who has been in jail in Namibia on murder and other charges for more than 10 years.

In comments made on social media over the past weekend, the American rapper – also known as Puff Daddy, P Diddy and Diddy – claimed Townsend has been incarcerated in Namibia and “has never received his right to a fair trial”.

Townsend (35) and a co-accused, fellow American Marcus Thomas (36), are on trial in the Windhoek High Court in connection with the murder of a Namibian citizen, Andre Heckmair (25), who was shot in an alleged planned killing in Windhoek on 7 January 2011.

Diddy said: “Kevan Townsend was arrested and put in prison for a murder without having any witnesses or evidence linking him to the crime.”

He also claimed: “There is no reason why a person can be stripped of their freedom for over a decade without ever seeing a judge. All he wants is a fair trial!!!”

Diddy’s comments, which by yesterday received more than 50 000 ‘likes’ on Instagram, where Diddy has more than 18,2 million followers, did not go down well with some Namibians and local celebrities, however.

Businesswoman and socialite Maria Nepembe commented: “I can’t believe you actually tried to #blacklivesmatter [an alleged] murderer out of prison.

“Namibians assemble. Report this account for spreading false information.”

Actress Tuna Kauapirura zeroed in on the factual inaccuracy on which Diddy’s comments are based when she reacted to his post on Instagram: “One question only. Did you fact check??! Did you take even just 5 min to google? You claim to be so proud to have African roots but keep letting Africa down. Smdh. It’s the hypocrisy & ignorance for me.”

In a similar vein, musician Taylor Jaye advised Diddy: “Review all facts in this case, before making a public statement about the justice system of Namibia.”

Also responding to Diddy’s post, Dillish Matthews commented: “You still have time to delete this Puff …”

Diddy made his remarks in connection with a social media campaign under the theme #Justice4Kevan, which Townsend’s father, Roger Bonds, has started in an effort to get his son released from prison in Namibia. Diddy described Bonds as a long-time friend.

In a post on social media this weekend, Bond claimed: “It doesn’t matter if you are American or Namibian …in a court of law one must be proven guilty and that’s not the case here.”

Bond also said: “Read the case without any prejudice and you cannot convict my son. You must bring forth evidence is it not bad enough for over 10 yrs you held my son. Where is the evidence. While I feel for the victim and his family. My son is innocent.” (sic)

Contrary to Diddy’s claim that Townsend has been jailed in Namibia “without ever seeing a judge”, he and Thomas have made numerous court appearances before magistrates and High Court judge Christie Liebenberg since their arrest in Windhoek in January 2011.

The two men have also been receiving a trial, which, however, has been repeatedly delayed for various reasons, including the withdrawal of several defence lawyers who represented them since the start of their trial in November 2014; applications for the recusal of the judge; and a failed attempt by Thomas to be found mentally unfit to stand trial.

The state is alleging that Thomas and Townsend travelled from the United States to Namibia in December 2010 to carry out a plan to kill Heckmair.

The two men are denying guilt on all six charges they are being tried on.

The trial is scheduled to continue this week.

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