– Zorena Jantze
29-year-old Zelda Goases has spent the last 12 weeks studying to be a paramedic. She wants to help people and save lives.
But recently, this dream was left hanging in the balance after a kiss with a same-sex peer came with unexpected ramifications.
Now, she spends her days in limbo in the confines of her room after what she perceived as a good luck peck between friends.
The young woman, who studied basic life support at the E360 Emergency Services, says she and her friend, who is also a student at the institution, were fined N$2 500 for the kiss in June this year.
“I arrived at school, and the students and management were standing in the kitchen. I came up to a friend of mine gave her a peck on the lips for good luck.
“There were students and management there, however they made no comment,” she said.
A week later, Zelda was called into the office.
“[This was] when the results were supposed to be out, so I thought it was about the results. However, management told me that there was a problem with my conduct and that I would need to pay a fine for kissing my female friend” Zelda said.
She said due to the fine she is currently unable to get her certificate and do her internship.
“I was reprimanded about the two occasions when I pecked my college mate. I have seen other students showing affection on campus however there wasn’t much fuss about it.
“In addition, I was not aware that there were any rules against showing affection at the college,” she said.
Zelda said she is currently unable to afford the fine as she had forked out N$8 000 of her savings to pay for the course.
“This is frustrating as I still have to do my internship and work 1000 hours in order to be a fully recognized paramedic,” she said.
E360 Emergency Services confirmed the incident and cited a violation of institutional policy as justification for the fine.
“I spoke to higher management and the lecturers and we came to an agreement that they need to write an apology letter and pay a penalty fee of N$ 2 500. [This is] in terms of the rule that states: “Students must demonstrate the effective qualities necessary to be a health care provider. No profane language, racial slurs or sexually inferred comments will be tolerated,” E360 management said.
This rule clearly does not prohibit kissing. A campus would have no lawful reason to prohibit kissing in its policies. But the law support Zelda even further.
Legal expert John Nakuta said the college acted unlawfully, as the punishment imposed on Zelda violates Article 8 of the Namibian constitution which cites that no person should be subjected to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Zelda has written a letter of complaint to the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) and the Health Professionals Council of Namibia (HPCN).
In the letter, she cites that the college has no grounds to withhold her qualifications.
She is currently awaiting an outcome.