The National Chairperson of the Cassinga/Vietnam Survivors’ Steering and Organising Committee said after 44 years of the Cassinga massacre, the survivors are still dealing with the trauma endured during that fateful day when many people lost their lives and sustained permanent injuries.
Ignatius Vahongaifa Mwanyekange told New Era that the Cassinga survivors still depend on the emotional support they get from immediate families.
“The most hurtful complaint we experience is that most comrades who were injured are not getting enough support. Some lost parts of their bodies and feel rejected and not recognised, which is painful. Many survivors could not cope with the trauma, and the older they get, the more they are affected and it even looks like it happened yesterday,” he stated.
He said this year, the commemoration will take place in the Omusati and Ohangwena regions, respectively, as there will be a prayer organised by the Nakayale ELCIN Parish in the Omusati region.
The Cassinga massacre on 4 May 1978 entails the killing of between 600 to 1 000 Namibians, of whom the majority were defenceless women and children. It is considered one of the worst atrocities committed by the South African apartheid-era forces.
The United Nations invited Swapo leader Sam Nujoma to address it before issuing United Nations Security Council Resolution 428 on 6 May, condemning South Africa for “the armed invasion of Angola carried out on 4 May 1978”. The Council condemned apartheid and the continued occupation of Namibia, and commended Angola for its support of the Namibian people.
Resolution 428 went on to condemn the suppression of the Namibian people by South Africa. The Council reaffirmed that the liberation of the Namibian people would be a prerequisite for the attainment of peace and security in southern Africa.
Mwanyekange said survivors remembered the 4th of May every year as a dark day in their entire lives.
“We vow to start commemorating this day at Cassinga, if the situation allows it. It is painful to many, some people never had any sort of comfort. Some are not even going to churches, some pass the entire day crying when they remember their comrades whom they were with and who died there. Imagine the trauma of a young person of age one to 17, experiencing such atrocities at a tender age, experiencing bombing from the air and shooting at range and people being killed with a bayonet? These pictures are still vivid and fresh in the survivors’ memories,” he said.
He added that so many of the survivors were trying to come to terms with the situation at hand, especially when they were preparing to go to Cassinga in Angola in 2016.
“When we arrived at the sites after 38 years, it wasn’t easy to believe what we were seeing. The place changed completely and worse, it was hurtful and heartbreaking to see the state in which the graves were. I honestly have to thank the churches in Namibia because they helped in many cases as some people had accepted what had happened, and some were given a chance to meet with others from different countries who had endured similar traumatising situations,” the chairperson said on behalf of other survivors.
He warned the former SWATF and other elements of the so-called security forces who are now in disarray and spreading propaganda and false information on social media that Cassinga was an army base, while some of them were not even recruited by the time Cassinga was attacked.
“I want to appeal to the Namibian nation to take this day as a remembrance day for those who lost and sacrificed their precious lives. To set the record straight, there are currently memories of more than 300 survivors. I think once it is compiled and finished, the nation will judge for themselves what Cassinga was,” he added.