Monday 14 June 2021
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Air Namibia shuns racism, promises safety

Despite the progress Namibia has made over the years when it comes to fighting racism, there is still a lot of structural legacy of racism exists in the society.
These were the sentiments of well-known Namibian gospel musician Maranatha Sofia Goroh who alleges that she was a victim of racist rants last week on an Air Namibia flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek.
“It was a Wednesday around 17h30 on my flight back to Namibia from Johannesburg, four men sat behind me and they constantly made racist remarks and talked a lot of bad things about black people. One called me a gorilla and another said they can’t see us[blacks] in the dark, all they see is our teeth” said a saddened Goroh.
She added: “They started drinking after they have made all the bad remarks, and even when a complaint was made one of the flight attendants nearly fell over in laughter instead of reprimanding those men despite my constant complaints, said a disappointed Goroh.”
An Air Namibia probe found that claims that one of its passengers was racially assaulted by fellow passengers is not as portrayed, instead, the probe found that the accused persons were engaging each other.
Air Namibia’s Corporate Communication Manager Paul Nakawa said the airline conducted a probe which included tracing Goroh in order to get her side of the story.
The probe has since been completed and the feedback was shared with the passenger accordingly, said the airline’s spokesperson.
“The investigation revealed that the passengers were engaging with each other and the conversation between all parties seemed amiable amongst each other and our crew did not at the time pick up any tension between any individuals.
The affected passenger reported the displeasing remark to the Cabin crew in a smiling/laughing manner,” said Nakawa.
Nakawa made it clear that Air Namibia does not condone racism in any form or shape.
“The crew cautioned the passenger who made the remark to refrain from making such remarks and the gentleman then mentioned that he is not racist and will refrain from such.
When passengers engage with each other on board, the crew does not interfere unless a safety risk is identified. At the same time, Air Namibia’s Cabin crew is not privy to conversations between passengers.
The airline is also is not liable for remarks echoed between passengers, however Air Namibia’s cabin crew are always on standby to ensure that passengers are as comfortable as possible,” he said.
“Air Namibia would like to reassure the flying public that the flight crew are highly trained staff and give the best service without compromising safety standards and without endangering the safety of the passengers themselves, aircraft or the surrounding environment,” he said.
Maranatha said the white travelers were also making fun of a gay flight attendant.
“They then started making fun of the gay guy who was serving on the plane but he also started laughing with them and didn’t do nothing. Upon landing at the airport we laid a complaint with the police and the police took me to the area for luggage collection, I told the police officer what happened while the four men stood there. He told me to shut up and signaled to the four men that he will help them get out of the situation and the four men were allowed to go without anything resolved,” she narrated.
Goroh said it is high time the authorities start directing their attention to dealing with the root causes of racism instead of being reactive.
Namibia not only has domestic laws in its arsenal, but is also a state party to the core international, regional and sub-regional laws and human rights instruments which prohibit discrimination and enjoin state party to take all necessary measures and steps to prevent, combat and eliminate discrimination. Citizens must also be ensured equal enjoyment of the rights guaranteed in the constitution.

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