City acts as party-pooperBy: SHINOVENE IMMANUEL
THE City of Windhoek’s decision to compel residents to apply for permission to host parties at their homes is confusing, according to Ombudsman John Walters. The City Police last week decided to enforce an existing city by-law that requires residents to submit a request if they plan to host a party over weekends.
It became effective on Friday morning, when announcements were made on radio and television. Those contravening the by-law will be fined from N$1 000 to N$10 000.
Also, people partying outside clubs and shebeens will now be fined N$1 000, especially those with loud music coming from their car stereos.
The decision also affects churches and other public gatherings that generate noise.
Yesterday, Walters said the move by the City Police could be
regarded as unconstitutional since it clashed with people’s freedom of association and right to privacy but like any law, one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.
The Ombudsman said there are more questions than answers about the decision by the city fathers.
“What will happen if they refuse to give a resident a permission to host a party? How will the person appeal?” he asked.
City Police Senior Superintendent Garry Shikesho yesterday confirmed that they had already fined people who contravened the regulation over the weekend.
He slammed those who accused the City Council of being autocratic, saying the by-law was not new at all.
“There is a law on noise pollution and public disorder,” Shikesho said, adding that the decision was taken mainly due to the high number of complaints about noisy gatherings.
“We are supposed to fight important matters like crime but I can tell you that 47 percent of complaints we receive at night are about noise pollution or roads blocked by vehicles at parties,” he said.
But there seems to be a problem with defining what constitutes a “party”.
Shikesho believes that the number of people is not a determining factor, but the noise level is what matters.
“Whether it is an old law or not, what matters is that public disorder is a concern,” he added.
Asked about the procedures of applying for permission, Shikesho said residents should apply 48 hours before they want to hold their party.
Ideally, he said, applications should be made a week in advance since these have to be scrutinised for approval.
The application should be signed by two or three of the party host’s neighbours.
Shikesho said the decision was influenced by the upcoming festive season and due to the fact that most children are due to start their examinations.
He also admitted that the decision was influenced by the recent ‘Project X’ party in Eros Park that attracted more than 700 teenagers.
According to him, reducing the noise in the city will reduce burglaries too, as some criminals use the noise as cover to break into people’s houses.