… NNOC president says media should stop bringing up Rio sex case
By John Tueriajama
NAMIBIA National Olympic Committee (NNOC) President, Abner Xoagub, has come out swinging in defence of amateur boxer, Jonas Junias Jonas, saying that the media should stop bringing up his ongoing case for sexual harassment in Rio, Brazil and rather let him focus on his boxing.
Jonas is scheduled to compete in the International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Boxing Championship, slated for Hamburg, Germany in August, despite having a cloud over his head, following his arrest and release on bail for allegedly sexually harassing a hotel maid during the Rio Olympics in August last year.
In a hard-hitting interview with Confidente this week, Xoagub said that instead of congratulating Jonas and Matheus Amunyela, who had both qualified for the AIBA champs, the media was choosing to “bring up the dark side of the story”, which was Jonas’ ongoing legal woes. Jonas returned home in April this year, after a decision by the Brazilian High Court to relax his bail conditions, which had previously seen him being accommodated at Namibia’s embassy in Brazil.
He was allowed to return to Namibia, but will have to continue returning to Brazil for his ongoing court case.
According to Brazilian law, which lumps attempted rape and sexual harassment in the same category, Jonas could face six and ten years in jail, if found guilty.
“Jonas need to focus and prepare for the world boxing championship, and all the media is interested in is his case,” Xoagub fumed.
“Brazil has come and is gone, and we are moving on with the boxers, and management has moved on. Jonas is an athlete, a boxer, young man and a role model for many upcoming fighters.
“I am sure all in the sporting community admire him for his bold and absolute dedication to represent and fight for the Land of the Brave, five hours after his release from prison (in Rio),” said Xoagub. Jonas and Amunyela booked their places in Hamburg, after sterling performances at the recent AIBA African Boxing Championship in Congo, Brazzaville.
Xoagub said they should first be congratulated for their great performances, “and for putting Namibia once again on the African boxing map”.
“Out of the ten gold medals, which were available at the 2017 AIBA African Boxing Championship in Congo, Brazzaville we sent two boxers, and both came back with gold medals, and what an achievement that was,” said Xoagub.
He said Namibia ended fourth on the medal table at the championship, which was contested by 18 countries, before adding that Jonas is a force to be reckoned within boxing, and that he is there to stay.
“We need to be proud of Jonas and Hamunyela, as many countries will kill to have fighters like them,” stressed the NNOC president. The world boxing championship is scheduled to kickoff on 25 August, and will feature 280 boxers from around the world, who will slug it out for nine exciting days.
“Those who qualified are the new generation of boxing talent to break through, and are hoping to establish themselves against more experienced names, on the road to the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan,” Xoagub said.
Asked about whether there had been any communication from Brazil regarding the case against Jonas, Xoagub reiterated that there is a legal team in the South American country that is working on the matter, and that they will inform the NNOC if there are new developments. “We will than communicate to the nation, and the relevant stakeholders, what the next moves will be,” he said.
Commenting on Jonas’ resilience and courage under the circumstances, the NNOC president said, “I can say that many athletes would have already quit their sport, if they were in Jonas’ shoes. I do admire the young man, as he is brave, spirited and courageous, and believes in himself and his mission. He is sure to be an Olympic Games gold medallist.”
Asked if Namibia is taking a gamble by allowing Jonas to compete in Hamburg, because there was no indication when his sexual harassment case could resume, he said, “We live for today; tomorrow will take care of itself. We are living in today, and Jonas is today. “If we all think of tomorrow, fear becomes our greatest enemy. We have moved on from Brazil; Rio was yesterday and we are planning for Tokyo 2020, and if we don’t make it, then at least we have tried.” Xoagub said that Namibians must believe in their athletes, and invest in them.
“No one is perfect and sinless; he is our son. The Brazilian judiciary system will take its course, so let them be the judges. For us, as Namibians, let’s forgive our son and support him. I personally believe in the athlete and will always support him,” he emphasised. Xoagub also confirmed that the Namibian government had paid U$30 000 for Jonas’ bail, legal fees, transport, accommodation, meals and living allowances in Brazil, before he returned to the Land of the Brave.
He added that Jonas needs positive motivation and encouragement, as well as the support of the nation. “He feels judged, accused and unappreciated! The only things that keep him going are his belief in his innocence and the dream of becoming one of the greatest fighters in the world.”
Asked whether Jonas had received any professional help during his ordeal so far, Xoagub said that when they went to Brazil, the Namibian team had in its ranks a qualified psychologist, and that Jonas had received counselling.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015