Celebration of crime reflect something deeper, analysts say

Nico Hijendepi Rebebe

Relationship expert and counsellor Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi says the celebratory social media remarks shared by the public after news broke of bank employee Nico Rebebe (30) allegedly stealing money from his employer demonstrates citizens’ frustration with growing inequality.

“These are unhappy people, fuelled by the unequal distribution of wealth in this country,” Karuaihe-Upi says.

Following the announcement of the incident, many Namibians took to social media to praise and congratulate the alleged criminal.

Some of the comments were “I know where Rebebe is and I’m not going to snitch” and “I am happy for you my guy …”.

Another one read “Well done. You set a good example. Banks are stealing people’s money every day. This is why we are happy when this happens”.

And “99,99% are on your side . . . Fear not my boy”, as well as “The guy is not a culprit, what’s with the jealousy now?”.

Political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah says social media creates a warped reality where many may share distorted values because they feel anonymous.

“Social media creates a space in which an individual can express themselves freely. It’s empowering, but it can also create fake identity and hence create illusions and unrealistic expectations.

“What’s expressed on social media by individuals are merely opinions and not facts or reality. So we have to be careful and avoid falling for the views of social media as facts and reality,” he says.

Namibian sociologist Ellison Tjirera said these comments reflect a schadenfreude, also understood as pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

Bank Windhoek has shared that the potential loss in connection with the theft is less than N$2 million after the Namibian Police shared in its crime report that N$200 million had been transferred in tranches of N$100 million each into two banks accounts opened in December.

“The potential loss is less than N$2 million thanks to vigilant staff action and robust systems and controls within Bank Windhoek.

No customer funds have been affected in any way by this incident,” Bank Windhoek managing director Baronice Hans has said.

“The Bank remains steadfast in its commitment to transparency and will release additional information as soon as it becomes available, without compromising the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” sha has said.

*How The Namibian went about verifying theft information:

We were in contact with Bank Windhoek on Sunday regarding the crime report and waited until our print deadline had passed for their response.

When the statement arrived, after our print deadline, we immediately published and distributed it to our various platforms.

This included Bank Windhoek’s managing director saying: “The potential loss is less than N$2 million thanks to vigilant staff action and robust systems and controls within Bank Windhoek.” During Sunday, we also tried to contact police spokespeople, including Kunene regional commander commissioner James Nderura, to verify the information initially released in the crime report. We also sent messages, hoping to confirm the amount involved. National police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi on Monday on the police’s WhatsApp group acknowledged that “the complainant rectified the figures in their press release” after the investigation was launched.

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