ONGWEDIVA – The family of the late struggle veteran Jonas Nawa Shiweda are not happy with the official funeral status accorded the former Swapo chief of logistics, saying it does not befit the role he played during the struggle years.
Shiweda served as Swapo’s chief of logistics for 30 years during the liberation struggle. The late colonel in the Ministry of Defence died on 18 February following an illness.
He was 85.
He joined the ministry shortly after independence and retired in 1996. The family members claim that the kind of funeral Shiweda is being accorded is an insult to the role he played in exile. “This man ensured PLAN (Swapo’s military wing) had enough equipment, including the guns they were fighting with. He ensured that they had accommodation, food and that they never ran out of anything. Why are they mistreating him in death?” queried a family member.
“Let us not shy away from history, we know the role he played and this man we are mourning today played a much significant role compared to other departed comrades who were accorded higher status funerals.”
The family is further aggrieved that ever since their father died a week ago, they were only informed on Wednesday of the status of Shiweda’s funeral.
Initially, the family was allegedly informed by the local leadership that he would be accorded a hero’s funeral. “If we knew this was the case we would have buried our father a long time ago to avoid incurring costs for almost two weeks, because even the money we got from the veterans ministry is not equivalent to what has been spent already,” a family member, who requested anonymity, said.
The family did not disclose how much money they received.
As it stands, the family claims, they will only be accorded pallbearers, the military music band, tents, tables and benches.
But the family said they would forever be indebted to the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs for building the late Shiweda a dwelling at his home village Olunghono and rendering him support whilst he was alive.
According to the family, Shiweda was one of the founding members of the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO) in 1958.
He later joined Swapo in 1961 and left Namibia through Botswana to Zambia.
He was honoured with a hero’s medal at the inauguration of the Eenhana Memorial Shrine in 2007.
He will be buried at the Eenhana Memorial Shrine on Saturday.
He is survived by nine children and 28 grandchildren.
Attempts to get comment from the authorities proved futile yesterday.