ONDOOZU – The human remains alleged to be that of a People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) soldier were discovered at Ondoozu village some 150 kilometres east of Kunene’s regional capital, Opuwo.
The remains were discovered by a cattle herder a fortnight ago.
The Swapo regional leadership in the region confirmed that the remains are of a PLAN soldier who most likely died in combat on 1 April 1989, when what was meant to be a ceasefire agreement between two former warring factions – PLAN and colonial South Africa – turned into a catastrophe.
On that day, as history has it, South Africa agreed to implement Resolution 435, which called for a ceasefire between South African forces and Swapo.
On the said date, South African forces were to be restricted to their bases, Swapo guerrillas confined in their camps.
“Prior to that date, we were informed that we are crossing into the country [Namibia] but we were not told more, but as a PLAN soldier you are prepared. On that date [1 April] we were commanded not to fire any shot, however should the enemy fire first, we should retaliate,” Linekela Shiweda who survived the attack said.
The Swapo regional coordinator of Kunene, Tuarungua Kavari, noted that the community members of Epupa constituency especially are hesitant to share information regarding the remains of former PLAN fighters when they discover them or have knowledge about some graves.
He claimed this was because they were threatened or banished from their communities by traditional leaders when they did share information.
He, however, expressed gratitude in the slight change of mind by some community members after countless engagements from his office.
“The first meeting we held with that area [Epupa], it was not easy because, when we came there, they asked us if we were Omugulugwombashe; we told them that we are not Omugulugwombashe but we are from the Swapo office. But they were told that when you give information on the graves of the combatants in your area, your area will be fenced off like Omugulugwombashe by the Swapo government and you will not have an area for grazing,” Kavari explained.
Speaking at one of the discovered open graves, Rex Thikameni Sheehama said the blood of the fallen fighters waters Namibian freedom.
“We were fighting for them, but now they have started insulting our senior leaders in this country. I want to say they must come and see their mothers and fathers work. Comrades, this is not a joke, it is the history that we have to transmit from generation to generation,” Sheehama
*Cecilia Xavier works for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Opuwo.