Life is a daily struggle and one of hardship for two elderly men from the San community living at Tondoro village in Kavango West region, who live together through abject poverty. One of the two men is crippled while the other is blind.
Arriving in the morning at a ramshackle, makeshift structure shared by the two, we found them sun basking and they conversed with two other villagers who visited them.
But it was more than what the eye could see. One of the visitors quickly told this reporter that they both had one form of handicap.
One of them, Kampasi Mpande, can walk but he cannot see and his shack-mate Lucas Mbamba, as he identified himself, can see but he can only crawl about as he is crippled. Mbamba said he recently lost the use of both his legs when he fell as he was coming back from relieving himself. Thereafter, he started experiencing pains in his hips and waist, and he lost the use of both his legs.
Mpande said an object entered his eyes as they were cultivating, resulting in him losing his sight. None could remember exactly when they were struck by misfortune.
Despite their conditions, the two do not receive any social grants meant for the disabled and elderly people from government, as they do not have Namibian identification document (ID) cards. They only have copies of their old South West African (SWA) identity cards and duplicates of their Namibian birth certificates that they have handed over to the Tondoro constituency councillor to facilitate for them to obtain their ID cards and possibly the grants. They are now in dire need of Namibian ID cards so that they could start receiving social grants, which they said would at least enable them to live a dignified life, instead of always waiting for handouts from sympathisers that they now heavily rely on.
“At least if we get our own money then it would be better off and not this life of ever begging from people, which is not good at all,” said Mpande.
“We are also in need of blankets, clothes, food and toiletries,” he added. When the two run out of water or food, Mbamba, who can at least see, crawls to nearby homesteads to beg; otherwise, they would starve. Their single makeshift structure was erected by a Good Samaritan but it is in a deplorable condition. For now, they are also afraid of snakes that could easily slither into their dwelling, and goats from nearby kraals are also a nuisance.
Mbamba lost his wife and children, while Mpande also lost his wife and one of his two children. He said his surviving child now lives in Zambezi region.
Tondoro constituency councillor Joseph Sivaku Sikongo said he is aware of the duo’s plight, which prompted him to approach the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security office in Nkurenkuru to apply for their IDs.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Sakeus Kadhikwa, told this reporter when the office in Nkurenkuru was approached this year for the application of Namibian IDs, the office detected some details on their birth certificates and their old SWA IDs do not correspond. Therefore, before issuance of Namibian IDs, a verification process of whether the two are the rightful owners of the old SWA IDs has to be done.
Kadhikwa further said they could not be assisted at the time they approached him, as the process of fingerprints has been suspended due to the Covid-19 state of emergency. Kadhikwa gave his assurance the two will now be assisted to get the Namibian IDs.
Mbamba will turn 69 years old later this year as indicated on his birth certificate, whereas his old SWA ID reveals he is turning 60 years old this year. Mpande’s birth certificate shows he is 70 years old while his SWA ID shows he will turn 101 years old.