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Against the 'Makakunyas' to be granted veteran status

By Dr. Armas Abdul Malik Shikongo, Windhoek.
Protected by the Namibian Constitution, article 12 (1) (a)and (b) to freely express my views, think independently, critically believe and have my own conscience guiding me, I hereby state my position on the emotive issue of the Ex-Koevoets members who are audaciously demanding to be treated just like those who were fighting for the freedom and liberation of this country. Like many Namibians, I have very bitter and bad personal memories of the Koevoets that I must share with the nation just to cement my conviction that such demands must not be met; this would amount to the abuse of the policy of national reconciliation.

Let also state here in the spirit of Mother's Day month of May, that I dedicate this story to my beloved mother, meme Ndasilwohenda. At the same time, I would also like to include my uncle, tate kulu Peter Nambundunga, (Lt Major General) and The Founding Father, Dr. Sam Nuyoma on his birthday, who bravely fought for this beloved country. These heroic individuals represent those who were fighting for freedom inside and outside the country, respectively.

My mother and I have a story to tell of the Makakunyas that happened at the height of their campaign of terror in the northern part of Namibia. Those of us who were at the receiving end of these notorious forces before our political independence still have vivid memories of the physical traumas and psychologically terrifying experiences they left on us. For some of them to now be openly demanding to be given the same status and related benefits like the likes of my uncle Peter Nambundunga must not go unchallenged. I for one, will not be silenced by those who cry that refusing to grant the ex- Koeveots Veteran Status amount to not respecting the policy of national reconciliation? I beg to differ. If anything, such demands threaten the policy of national reconciliation, as it brings back traumatic memories and experiences to some of us, their victims - and victors!

Our most traumatic experience with the Makakunyas: I was about 10 years of age. My mother was pregnant with our last second born, Pandeni. It was during the rainy seasons when people in the north generally busy themselves with mahangu field cultivations. This particular day, we were to collect our donkeys from a nearby grazing field, where the donkeys we use for ploughing normally spend the night resting while grazing outside our fenced yard. That week the Plan fighters were rumored to have passed through our village and the nearby villages.

This particular day, the Caspirs came very early to our villages, vigorously looking for the 'Swapo terrorists' who they heard or knew were in the area, and it seemed like during the same week there was also some skirmishes between the South African Army and Swapo fighters near our villages. So, the situation was very tense.

It was around 8 to 9 in the morning when my heavily pregnant mother and I set out to collect the donkeys as indicated earlier. Just when we were about to reach the field where the donkeys were grazing, came the Caspirs. If my memories serve me well, they were about four or five, driving quite furiously and noisily towards us. Even before one of the Caspirs that were approaching us stopped, one of the 'eKakunya' jumped off towards us, angrily asking my mother "where are the terrorists?" My mother tried to answer, I heard her rhetorically asking them back, "you are the one actively looking for them, you are supposed to know where they are"...before she finished talking, that Kakunya slapped her violently on her face, my mother fell down to the ground and the next thing I see, the ruthless Kakunya was viciously kicking and whipping my mother with a sjambok! By that time, I fearfully ran away, and looking on from a distance - very scared for my mother's life and mine.

As I said, I was just about 10 years of age! Looking on from a distance I could only helplessly witness the ruthless beating and kicking of my pregnant mother. By the time, they were done with beating her, my mother was bleeding on her face and she had crack just above her temple. Her upper arms were swollen already immediately after the brutal beating. I could only go back to my mother after the Caspirs drove off to go towards other houses and villages. While driving away I could hear them rudely shouting at my mother. I heard them saying that she was lucky that she was pregnant otherwise they were going to beat her thoroughly, clearly using foul language. That incident became one of the ugliest of my life experiences with the Koevoets, among many such bad experiences.

What was unforgivable about it was the fact that my mother was pregnant and yet there was no consideration of this fact. I even feared that the beating could have led to negative pregnancy complications. Thank God, my sister was born healthy and sound, and now she is a proud Polytechnic of Namibia Civil Engineering graduate!

Now, one thing I knew was that our village was well-known for helping, sheltering and hiding Swapo fighters, of course like most, if not, all of the villages in my area. I still very much remember the Swapo fighters who used to visit our house during the night looking for food, intelligence information, material assistance, first aid medical help, even just visiting us. I remember soldiers like Kaunda ka Zambia, Mathew, Mbwangela, Makutsi, Iipinge yaTooleni and many others who used to frequent our house. We came to recognize them, not only by their faces but even their voices! They also used to teach my family members Swapo revolutionary songs that Meme used to tape record, and of course, keep and listen to them secretly!

I later came to learn from my mother that she used to buy clothes, bicycles, radios and other basic necessities for the Swapo fighters, at times, buying things such clothes and ladies' shoes so that they wear them to mislead the South African Army when tracking them! This is why I strongly believe that my dear mother like my dear uncle, equally fought for this country. I now know of many brave things my mother and many people in the war zone did to help liberate this country.

Another story my mother recently told me is that since she was a school principal and able to afford a car, there was one time when my late father and a family friend (Pastor) helped drive the injured Swapo fighters into Angola from the side of Uukwaluudhi district, having perfectly hidden them, until they successfully managed to get them cross the border safely into Angola. My mother also told of a heroic act of having facilitated some people to cross the border, hiding them at our house until the SWAPO fighters were known to be in the area to take them with, one such individual was Tate Paulus Amkoto.

Now, I am comparatively and rationally thinking. Should these acts of bravely and heroism be equated with what the mercenary Makakunyas were doing to our people, including the terrible incident I shared earlier? On what basis, should such ex-Koevoets be granted Veteran Status, with its related benefits and social recognitions?

Where that leaves my mother, my late father and many other victims of Koevoets's atrocities? The day the Makakunyas are granted Veteran Status will surely be the day I shall equally demand that some of our entire villages in the north be given such a status as well, not only because of the horrific suffering and material losses we suffered for supporting the 'Swapo terrorists' but simply because it would have become very cheap to become a Veteran of the Liberation Struggle in this country, making a clear mockery of the suffering that we went through.

This will be the day I shall equally demand that I be given a veteran status, with the financial benefits that comes with such a status. I would think that given the very well-known notorious history, which is very much fresh in the memories of the many victims of the Makakunyas as part of the apartheid and colonial army, they would just be satisfied that they were, indeed, socially forgiven, but to expect people to forget is disgusting to say the least.

I am truly disgusted by such calls, hence my vigorous opposition and that explains this personal story. Yes to the Policy of National Reconciliation, No to the abuse of the Policy of National Reconciliation. Such demands must be rejected without wasting time on useless debates. Yet, this remains my own take on this issue.





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