Just when Namibians expected sexual assault-accused Jonas Junias Jonas to score a victory in his debut at the Olympic Games, French opponent Hassan Amzile would have none of it, and denied the Namibian the victory dance when he defeated him in their preliminary round of the light welterweight fight. The fight took place just after the Namibian was released from prison.
Jonas entered the ring brimming with confidence, as the crowd cheered him on. He introduced himself as a potential medalist in the first round with perfect executions for at least three quarters of the first round. He kept dominating and landing sighted punches, which principally earned him the round on the judges’ scorecards.
In the second round, the Frenchman returned the favour by piling pressure on Jonas with equally powerful punches that went in favour of the French flag. Then, Jonas momentarily lost steam, subsequently giving the second round to Amzile.
In an exchange of powerful blows from both fighters in the last round, Amzile seemed to be the leading contender, giving Jonas no time to come back. It was Amzile who earned victory to proceed to the next round and thus halting Jonas’ participation in the Rio games.
This means that the Namibian boxer falls out of the competition and now has to focus on his case. International and local media have been abuzz on the arrest news of Jonas in Rio de Janeiro since 7 August.
Jonas was arrested on 7 August following a complaint lodged against him by the cleaning staff from the Olympic village. According to one of the Namibian officials in Rio, during the preliminary hearing in the late hours of the night on the day of the arrest, Jonas exercised his right to remain silent and the judge accepted a formal charge of the offence alleged to have been committed by Jonas. There after, Jonas was handed over to the correctional services of Brazil in Rio where he was to remain in custody pending the finalisation of the charge against him.
Since then, the Namibian National Olympic Committee (NNOC), with the assistance of the Namibian Embassy in Brazil has collaborated to ensure the release of Jonas from custody to participate in the Rio 2016 Summer Games. The NNOC appointed a legal practitioner to assist with the preliminary hearing. During the early hours of 8 August, the legal practitioner appointed to launch a habeus corpus in the court of appeal for the release of Jonas lodged an application which was declined by court.
On 9 August, NNOC then appointed new legal practitioners for Jonas. Consultations giving instructions concluded very late during the night of 9 August and continued throughout the early hours of 10 August. In the late afternoon of 10 August, and after the Namibian Embassy delivered a statement that it will accept Jonas in their custody and safekeeping outside the Olympic village, the second application habeus corpus was launched and filed. The precautionary measures stated in the second habeus corpus were accepted by the presiding judge. He was then released just in time for the weigh in and eventually had a few hours to prepare for his fight.
After his fight, the Namibian boxer went on Facebook to thank those who stood by and believed in him. “That was my all to the people who believe in me and my innocence. Having sleepless night and kept behind closed doors for nothing is not easy I was drowned out and still went to fight,” read the post.
Speaking from Brazil’s capital was Sport, Youth and National Services, Agnes Tjongarero, who congratulated the athletes who already competed but could not solicit any medals. “I’m happy with the team. I know they have worked very hard. Their preparations were on track and unfortunately some could not make it but we are hoping for the best from some who are still to compete,” said the deputy minister.
She added that the fracas surrounding Jonas’ case was rather unfortunate but she does not personally believe that the allegations hold any water. “Personally, as I know Jonas, whatever those allegations may be, I do not believe it because I know Jonas. But let us wait [and see] what the legal issues will surface at the end of the day,” Tjongarero said before asking the Namibian nation to stand behind the Namibian athletes because only Namibians can support them best.
The track athletes are Namibia’s last hope for a medal.