Street musicians not allowed to perform in public places

Prohibited from performing in the streets Sappy Slam was given the boot by the City Police last week for performing in public on Independence Avenue. (Photograph by Jenny Sitole)

The Windhoek City Police last week prohibited street musicians from performing in public places such as Independence Avenue. The City Police accused the artists of noise pollution (any sound that causes noise nuisance) not only for pedestrians walking in the central business district but also to shop owners in the targetted areas.

Ndahangetate Samuel aka Seppy Slam is an Angolan-born refugee and is one of the musicians that were warned to keep his live performance off the streets. He was confronted in Independence Avenue by an officer of the the City Police and summarily instructed not to perform otherwise he will be removed. “Police told me I can not play my music on the streets as the owners of the shops do not tolerate street musicians standing and performing at their entrances. It is a pity because a talented person has a right to at least showcase their talent in whatever way they feel to express it” Seppy said.
The City of Windhoek though have strict rules and regulations prohibiting anyone to disturb the peace by emitting or amplifying, by means of broadcasting equipment or otherwise, music, speech, messages of any kind or any other sound which causes, or is likely to cause noise nuisance.
The Municipal Council of Windhoek under section 94(1) of the Local Authorities Act, 1992 (Act No. 23 of 1992) stated that under the Prohibition of Noise Nuisance, a person may not in the municipal area or from a street, a public place or any property belonging to the Council or another erf, broadcast or cause to be broadcast, sound that will cause noise pollution.
The regulation states that a person who wishes to broadcast music, speech, messages or any other sound on or from a street, public place, property or erf must, on a form determined by the committee, apply to the City of Windhoek for authorisation to do so. The regulation further states that musicians who wish to perform in public places have the right to do so but only with written permission from the City of Windhoek that is applied for at the council. However, Seppy contends this does not come cheap or easy as there are a lot of terms and conditions that must be met by the artist that wants to perform in a public place. A certain fee must also be paid to the council.
The City said the law is clear and it will not tolerate noise nuisance but this does not mean that artist are doomed from expressing themselves openly at specific places. In fact there are several platforms that are made available for artist to express and showcase their talents such as the Warehouse Theatre open mic nights, the Bank Windhoek Arts festival and the FNCC World Music Day annual concerts that always provide opportunity for artists to perform on stage whether they are recognised or not. These platforms are available to all artist that need to freely express themselves without being hindered by the law.