By Confidente Reporter
THE Office of the First Lady is assisting the police to investigate incidents of cyberbullying at seven schools in three regions, which include threats to leak explicit images of school-going teenagers and young women studying at tertiary institutions.
This was revealed by Dr Veronica Theron, who is the Technical Director in First Lady, Monica Geingos’ office, who said that the investigations are being conducted at seven schools and institutions in the Khomas, Hardap and Erongo regions.
Theron said that the cyberbullies have also threatened to physically harm their victims, as well as their loved ones and friends, while accusations of psychological torture and verbal abuse were also being probed.
This comes after incidents of cyberbullying were reported to the Office of the First Lady by a Windhoek secondary school Life Skills teacher, amid fears that many learners could be trapped in the same predicament.
“The case was reported to this office on 16 March and the police were notified on the same day. Several case conferences were held with roleplayers from different disciplines, to clarify their roles (in the probe). The parents of children concerned were informed and counselled. Statements were taken and the investigation is pending,” said Theron.
“The learners are all from different schools or institutions. More than seven schools from the Khomas, Hardap and Erongo regions were mentioned. There have been threats to leak the identity of the learners being targeted, as well as indecent images. There were also threats to do physical harm to the victims, their friends and loved ones etc. A lot of psychological torture and online verbal abuse has occurred.”
Theron also confirmed that a Life Skills teacher had initially lifted the lid on what was happening.
“The teacher, who is one of the volunteers in our #BeFree youth programme, knew about the Gender-Based Violence Pillar in the Office of the First Lady (under the Harambee Prosperity Plan).
“The matter is very serious, since we suspect that many Namibian girls from different schools, and young adolescents from tertiary institutions, are involved.”
The country has recently been ravaged by cases of cyberbullying, with many so-called revenge porn sex tapes being circulated on social networks.
In January, legal action was instituted against a Windhoek man, Sackeus Panduleni Shoolongo, who allegedly accused his estranged girlfriend of leaking an explicit sex video, involving him and an unidentified woman. The video has since been shared on different social media platforms, including Facebook and WhatsApp.
Having initially been accused of leaking the video, Shoolongo then claimed that it had in fact been leaked by his ‘ex-girlfriend’, Maria Ipito, who in turn sued him for defamation and demanded a retraction.
Other Namibian-made sex tapes have also been shared on social media, including those allegedly involving university students.
Defamation on social networks is becoming increasingly common, with comments, pictures and videos often infringing on the rights of those being targeted by these posts.
Theron advised those being cyberbullied to approach the Office of the First Lady or their nearest police station, for assistance.
“Many more children are trapped and we want to appeal to them to report the matter to their local police station, social worker or our office, at Veronica. Theron@op.gov.na or 061 270 7806.”
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