• November 19th, 2018
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Oshakati bomb survivor Zaaruka opens up after 30 years

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Front Page News

Nuusita Ashipala Oshakati-Multi-millionaire businessman Ben Zaaruka, who survived the mysterious 1988 Barclays Bank bomb blast at Oshakati but lost his fiancée in the attack, yesterday said a “white man” could have been behind the deadly explosion. Mystery continues to shroud the fatal incident, but many senior leaders in Namibia today believe the attack formed part of the brutal strategy of the colonial regime to cause confusion and sow fear among Namibian people. Twenty-seven people died in the attack, while several others were maimed. Zaaruka, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time in 30 years, said his fiancée at the time, Johanna Onesmus, who died a week after the attack due to severe injuries, told him that she saw a white man dropping a bag in the bank moments before the deadly explosion. “She said a white man, dressed in shorts, dropped a bag in the bank and left. I am not saying the white man had a bomb in that thing [bag],” said Zaaruka yesterday at Oshakati. He made the revelation when the attack was commemorated yesterday, speaking publicly on what could happened prior to the Oshakati bomb blast on February 19, 1988. Zaaruka said his fiancée told him this two days before she passed away on February 26, 1988. According to Zaaruka, his fiancée observed a man with a bag filling in a bank receipt before he dropped the bag on the floor. But before Onesmus could tell the white man that he was leaving his bag behind, having presumably forgotten it, she was struck by the shrapnel from the explosion. Strangely, said Zaaruka, there were no police or army personnel in sight at the bank, as they only showed up an hour later after he and other civilians had transported the injured to hospital. “I stayed away for 30 years because it was war, we could not talk about those things,” said Zaaruka, who himself was at the bank but survived the explosion. Zaaruka had met his fiancée at the bank that day as she needed assistance before she would travel to Lüderitz. He said he had previously shared the story with close acquaintances. He has ugly vivid images of arms and legs lying around and a body sliced in half requesting assistance, he told those in attendance yesterday. He recalls lying almost three metres from the door on his back, motionless, with money flying around. “Next to me I saw a body cut in half with only the top part saying I am in pain, I need help.  The bottom part of the body was not there, and that is when I drew the courage to sit up,” said Zaaruka. Speaking at the event, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba said the attack on the bank was politically motivated and joined Zaaruka in suspecting the white apartheid regime of planting a bomb as those who were in charge of security were nowhere to be found. “Perhaps what that man carried is what caused the death of our people,” said Pohamba. “It was an attack designed to sow the seeds of fear among Namibian people at the time when the attainment of our independence was approaching,” said Pohamba. Speaker after speaker hailed and asked the nation to uphold the spirit of reconciliation. Pohamba also appealed to the nation to reject tribalism, calling on those with issues hindering them to come to the table and talk, saying that tribalism is dangerous and not good for any country. The governor of Oshana region Clemens Kashuupulwa also called on the nation to strive for national reconciliation as a precondition for economic emancipation. The event was graced by the presence of a number of politicians and clergymen.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-20 08:53:38 8 months ago

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