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View Point

By Major - General J. B. Tjivikua
Commander Hanganee "Katjipuka" Kavezeri, a hero, a fighter who never took cover in battles. Commander Hanganee "Katjipuka" Kavezeri was a descendant of the heroes and heroines of the 1904 - 1908 anti-colonial war of resistance against German fascist imperial troops.

He was born in 1940, in Maun, Republic of Botswana, to Mrs. Louise Opperman Tjetjoo and Mr. Opperman Kavezeri, both deceased, with lineage to the Tjamuaha Royal clan.

He was a brilliant student who completed Form V at Maun Secondary School. Urged by love and undivided loyalty to his ancestral home, Namibia, like many children of the forebears of the German genocide scattered in the diaspora, who never forgot their mother tongue, roots and where their parents came from, he went into exile in 1963 where he joined the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) Liberation Movement at the age of 23, to fight for Namibia's self determination and independence. He graduated with a BA degree from Ibadan University (UI), one of the most prestigious universities in Western Nigeria. Upon obtaining his degree, he returned to Dar Es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, and the SWAPO leadership intended to send him for further studies in Great Britain but Commander Katjipuka opted to go to the battlefront.

Commander Katjipuka received military training in the former Soviet Union (USSR) and in 1976 he became the Deputy Regional Commander of the Eastern Front, in the Republic of Zambia, deputizing late Commander (Tate) Amunyela Wa Shalale, under the overall sterling command of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) Deputy Army Commander, Lt-Gen. (rtd) Salomon Hawala. He was affectionately known as "Commander Katjipuka" well known for the use of old wise adage "The security of life is to have no fear", when addressing troops, for his habitual in front leadership of battle formations and for his unique commando style of not taking cover in battles.

On the fateful day of March 1977, a reinforced detachment comprised of gallant fighters from A, B, C, and Morning Star detachments of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) at the Eastern Front commanded by fearless and battle tested Commanders, viz, Lazarus Amutele and Phillip Nambuli made a daring attack and destroyed a South African trenched military base at Kamenga, Kwando-Cubango area on the Namibia/Zambia frontier, with heavy artilleries and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy forces. As a result, a fierce battle ensued.

As the battle was rattling, Commander Katjipuka with his small group of battle hardened fighters who were based at Omufitu Wa Mako (Mako Forest), advanced forward towards the battlefield in a daring attempt to reinforce and join the ongoing battle. Little did they know that the reinforced detachments of fellow combatants who were battling the racist soldiers made some tactical manoeuvres and withdrew from the battlefield, after destroying the base.

While in combat formation and proceeding to the battlefield, Commander Katjipuka and his group, including the well known Lt-Col. (rtd) Josephat "Nandos" Mbako, a former Field Communication Officer, fell in an enemy ambush and the battle started. Late Comrade Mbengela who hails from Kavango Region and who was operating a machine-gun was shot dead and Commander Katjipuka suddenly seized his machine-gun and continued firing endlessly, changing his hands and manoeuvring his combat skills between a machine-gun, his AK 47 assault rifle and a TT pistol.

The enemy called in a reinforcement of an air borne division and assault helicopters and it was during that intense exchange of heated gun fire that an enemy assault helicopter was shot down with a DCK machine-gun by late Comrade Hanne Onesmus, whereby a South African Defence Force Area Commander and a pilot were instantly killed.

Many fighters who were with Commander Katjipuka sacrificed in that battle, with dead bodies of enemy soldiers strewn on the battlefield. The quantities of ammunition the fighters were carrying, were now running low. Commander Katjipuka despite the tragic and sudden loss of manpower and fire power, continued firing incessantly, hitting the enemy soldiers one by one, but, although he was later on shot and seriously wounded, he continued fighting to the end. His fate remains a mystery. This battle was then baptized as the "Battle of Singalamwe".

Commander Hanganee "Katjipuka" Kavezeri was a legendary brave Commander, an acute reconnaissance commander, a brilliant military strategist, a skilled communicator and a genius who was exceptionally loved and well respected by all in the ranks of the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).

He commanded and fought countless fierce battles, such as the battle of Sinjembela, the battle at Kaunga-Mashi, in the Kwando-Cubango area, where late Commander Israel Patrick "Luganda" Iyambo was shot in the left arm while making a daring attempt to capture a wounded enemy soldier alive. At the battle at Ulawa, in Kwando-Cubango area, Angola, it is where Upahee Alfons "Dr" Ngeama, a former Regional Medical Officer, warmed up a blade of his combat knife on a rudimentary flames of a tiny fire which was hastily made, to clean off bacteria and performed a surgical operation to remove a bullet that was stuck in the vertebrae of former Ambassador Comrade Kondja Kambala, who was severely wounded before carrying him on a home-made stretcher through reeds and crocodiles infested tributaries of the Cuando River to Zambia.

His rare photograph was given to me by his late partner, comrade Maria Amakali, a former PLAN combatant at Nyango Refugee Camp in Zambia in 1978 when their beloved daughter Unomuinjo (Uno) Katjipuka, a practising Attorney in Windhoek was probably a month old.

Commander Hanganee "Katjipuka" Kavezeri is survived by his three siblings, two sisters and a brother. He's surely missed by his fellow combatants. Ombande, Hijoo!

NB:Major-General James B. Tjivikua is Deputy Inspector General for Administration. He is a former combatant and commander in the People's Liberation Army of Namibia, PLAN.





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