A fisherman’s nightmare… Zambezi fisherman shares near-death experience

Home National A fisherman’s nightmare… Zambezi fisherman shares near-death experience
A fisherman’s nightmare… Zambezi fisherman shares near-death experience

SANGWALI – A normal and enjoyable fishing expedition for three local young fishermen around the Nkasa Rupara National Park in the Zambezi region could have been their last day alive.

This is after things turned deadly on a peaceful Sunday, when three Namibian villagers from the Nongozi area in Sangwali encountered members of the environment and tourism ministry’s anti-poaching unit while on a fishing expedition.

Now, questions linger as to what transpired, leading up to the death of one of them, Lubinda Samupwa (24).

New Era reached out to survivor Lucky Sihani (26), who shared their ordeal about the fateful day.

Sihani said upon entering the park, they headed straight to
their fishing camp before proceeding to the riverside, where they cast their nets into the water to catch fish. During their expedition, they were intercepted by the anti-poaching unit officials.

It was at this point that the two fishermen panicked, and instinctively jumped into the water.

“It was on Sunday at around 16h00 when we went to the park to fish. When we reached our fishing camp, we left our bags and headed for the riverside. We then entered the water. We went ahead to cast our nets. After a while, we started pulling out the nets as we had caught many fish. When I looked around, I
realised there were rangers in uniform armed with guns. “Lubinda and I got scared and jumped into the water. I realised I was drowning, and decided to come out. They told me that if I tried to run away, they would shoot me. They were pointing guns at me,” he narrated. As the duo were in the water, their fellow fisherman Kamati Simonga, who had remained on shore, surrendered with his arms raised, Sihani recalled. When he came out of the water, he was ordered to lie on the ground.

He went on to say: “My friend [Samupwa] was still in the water, and I never saw him again. The rangers asked me how many gunshots I had heard; I told them I did not hear any shotguns since I was under water.”

Sihani said one ranger asked his colleagues if any of them had shot a person, but they all responded that they had fired shots into the air.

Tragically, Samupwa did not emerge from the water, and the anti-poaching unit refused to retrieve his body, despite the shallow water and the survivors’ pleas, Sihani continued.

Deadly waters

The two remaining fishermen were frog-marched by three anti-poaching members, to the fishing camp, despite the survivors’ insistence that their friend was missing.

Sihani said the officers downplayed their pleas, insisting that they were only two fishermen.

My friend Kamati told them that he saw someone in the water, but two rangers said there was no one in the water. They then handcuffed us. When we reached the camp, they told Kamati to go back with two rangers to look for the person he said he had seen in the water. 

I asked the one who remained guarding me how we were going to explain to our parents that we were three when  we left home, but only two of us returned?
I also asked him if we could cast a net into the water in the hope we could retrieve him, but he told me that everything would be reported to the police.” 

Sihani continued sharing the ordeal. When Kamati and the two rangers returned from the river, they said they had not seen anyone in the water.

The two arrested fishermen were allegedly instructed to gather everything at their camp, including firewood and small pieces of paper they used to make fire. “I just think these people shot him. I don’t think water can kill someone without even struggling in the water. They were asking me how many shotguns I heard. I think maybe the moment we jumped in the water, they were shooting. 


Samupwa’s decomposed body was eventually found floating in the water two days later,  and was retrieved. Samupwa, who left behind a six-year-old son, Twaniso, was laid to rest in the Nongozi area a week ago.

Although the police autopsy reveals that the cause of death is drowning, the family, with the support of the Sangwali community and the Namibian Lives Matter Movement, continues to demand justice for the mysterious death of Samupwa. When New Era visited him, Samupwa’s grandfather Sodias Lifasi (76) was a man gripped by grief. The family had lost a breadwinner. “I am saddened by the death of my grandchild. We are worried and afraid. Our government should assist us in visiting the scene where his body was found. He left behind a small child, who is now orphaned. The mother is unemployed. He used to help with house needs, and would go fishing to make a decent living and feed us. We lost a grandchild who was assisting in farming.”

Meanwhile, his aunt, Maretha Lifumbela, has been crying every day since Samupwa’s passing. “He was a breadwinner for us. Even the room I am sleeping in was built for me by him. Now he is no more. They should not leave the case unfinished. We want justice to prevail,” a grieving Lifumbela demanded.


The Namibian Lives Matter Movement movement has been calling for the arrest of those responsible or involved to ensure that justice for Samupwa and his grieving family prevails.  Meanwhile, Sihani and Simonga were taken to the Sangwali police station, where both were fined N$3 000 for illegal fishing, or alternatively three months in jail. Responding to questions, environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said based on preliminary information at their disposal, it is insinuation that they are covering up the truth in the matter.

“To the contrary, our reaction was based on the outcome of an investigation done by a competent authority, the Namibian Police. You would have noticed that the ministry only reacted after the police released the post-mortem results. We wanted to ensure that the investigation took place uninterrupted, and for the outcome to inform the type of response to give. On this basis, there is no possible way we could cover up a case investigated by another authority,” he said.

Muyunda added that Samupwa’s death was regrettable, and that it was a difficult moment for his family, perhaps making them vulnerable to political exploitation.

He was seemingly referring to the involvement of the Namibian Lives Matter Movement in the matter.

“We want to caution communities to be vigilant, and avoid being used by those seeking political relevance. If people question the post-mortem report by the Namibian Police, they must take it up with the police so that necessary steps are taken to assure those in disagreement. We will support the direction that the investigation will take. We have nothing to hide or cover up,” he added.