A section of Namibian celebrities descended on Diddy after he claimed a Black American national who has been locked up in the southwest African country for over 10 years isn’t getting a “fair trial.” The suspect, identified as 35-year-old Kevan Townsend, is on trial for his alleged involvement in the killing of a Namibian citizen.
According to local news outlet The Namibian, authorities said 25-year-old Andre Heckmair’s killing in Namibia was planned. Townsend and another American citizen, Marcus Thomas, 36, have been detained in connection with Heckmair’s death ever since. Authorities said the two suspects specifically flew to Namibia from the United States to kill Heckmair.
Diddy is said to be friends with Townsend’s father. And the 51-year-old music and business mogul’s Instagram post about the case over the weekend came in the wake of a social media campaign Townsend’s father launched to demand his son’s release.
“Kevan Townsend was arrested and put in prison for a murder without having any witnesses or evidence linking him to the crime,” Diddy reportedly posted. “There is no reason why a person can be stripped of their freedom for over a decade without ever seeing a judge. All he wants is a fair trial!!!”
But Diddy’s post was met with swift backlash by some Namibian celebrities as well as locals who suggested he learn the facts of the case before actually commenting. “I can’t believe you actually tried to #blacklivesmatter [an alleged] murderer out of prison,” Maria Nepembe, a businesswoman and socialite, commented, per The Namibian. “Namibians assemble. Report this account for spreading false information.”
An actress by the name Tuna Kauapirura also commented: “One question only. Did you fact check??! Did you take even just 5 min to google? You claim to be so proud to have African roots but keep letting Africa down. Smdh. It’s the hypocrisy & ignorance for me.”
“Review all facts in this case, before making a public statement about the justice system of Namibia,” musician Taylor Jaye also told the rapper.
Former Big Brother Africa winner Dillish Matthews also commented, “You still have time to delete this Puff …”
Although Diddy claimed Townsend had not seen a judge during his decade-long detention in Namibia, The Namibian reports the two accused American nationals have actually appeared before a court on several occasions after their arrest.
The news outlet added that their trial commenced in 2014 but it has been dragging because of some setbacks – including multiple defense lawyers withdrawing from representing the two suspects. Besides that, there have been applications for the presiding judge to step down from the case. And Thomas was also unsuccessful in trying to have the court declare him mentally unfit to be prosecuted.
The two suspects face a slew of charges including murder. They maintain their innocence.