Selma Ikela and Toivo Ndjebela
WINDHOEK – Friends of slain Zimbabwean taxi driver Talent Fambaune, who was cold-bloodedly shot dead in the wee hours of yesterday, said he migrated to Namibia in 2018 in search of a better life.
Fambaune, 22, first tried his luck in construction but things did not work in the sector that is undergoing turbulences of its own due to subdued economic activity in Namibia.
His brother, who also escaped the harsh economic conditions back home, works as a gardener in Windhoek’s leafy suburb of Eros.
In Zimbabwe, the two brothers hail from Mazoe near Harare. And it was in Mazoe where they got their marching orders from their parents to come to Namibia and find jobs.
They were expected to send remittances back home once in a while – as is expected of nearly every
Zimbabwean living abroad. Having failed to make ends meet in construction, Fambaune agreed with a local taxi owner to raise money as a taxi driver. Once the agreed amount was raised, the vehicle would become Fambaune’s.
This is a common practice in the Namibian taxi industry, where drivers besiege owners with proposals that they raise a certain amount to pay off the vehicle.
Yesterday, Fambaune, a resident of Greenwell Matongo location in Katutura, had gone to see a friend in the neighbouring Hakahana location.
Described as a non-drinker, Fambaune was on his way back home when, as fate would have it, he met his death.
Information relayed to New Era is that he saw a roadblock a few metres ahead, and tried to drive back. “We Zimbabweans are not allowed to drive taxis in Namibia and he knew of course that he would be arrested, so he made a U-turn,” Zimbabwean national and friend of the deceased Innocent Manongwa said.
“It is true that Zimbabweans are not allowed to drive taxis here but anyone in our situation is likely to take that chance.”
“We saw some insinuations on social media that maybe Talent was drunk. He never touched alcohol,” Manongwa told New Era.
Asked how they found out about Fambaune’s brutal killing, allegedly by a member of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) who formed part of the joint Operation Kalahari Desert, Manongwa said: “We got it on a WhatsApp group of taxi drivers. Photos were circulated there and we immediately realised it was him.”
“He was a hardworking boy who was only trying to put food on the table for his family. He didn’t have to die this way.”
As though Fambaune’s death was not hard enough, the nearly insurmountable hardship the family and friends now face is to repatriate his body home. “Imagine that he was a breadwinner for his family, meaning those that he left home are even poorer. So the family certainly cannot afford,” Manongwa said.
Commenting on the incident, Ombudsman John Walters cautioned the law enforcement forces involved in the controversial Operation Kalahari Desert to use minimal force when dealing with civilians.
“The purpose of this exercise is to prevent crime and protect lives – and that should not result in a death or assault on a person,” he said.
Responding to calls that soldiers should not be part of the operation, Walters said the Defence Act makes provision that soldiers may be used to help the Namibian police in the exercise of their duties. Namibian police spokesperson Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi said the suspected shooter, aged 38, is expected to make his first appearance in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court today. The soldier is appearing on charges of murder and negligently discharging a firearm. He is member of A Squadron, based at Luiperdsvallei military base outside Windhoek.
In addition, the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement yesterday called for soldiers to be removed from the streets and return to the barracks. In a statement issued yesterday afternoon AR activist Job Amupanda said they are in consultation with several organisations, including the People’s Litigation Centre (PLC) and others for an urgent application to be launched and be heard soonest in the Windhoek High Court to ensure that another life is not lost at the hands of soldiers working “on the instruction and at the caprice of the political elite”.
“If the court does not listen to us in order to save the lives of our people, we will explore other means of protecting the lives of our citizens,” said Amupanda.
Operation Kalahari Desert was launched after a similar operation, christened Hornkranz, ended. Last month police national chief, Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga said they were investigating six cases of alleged assault reported against members of Operation Hornkranz.
2019-06-14 09:20:30 4 days ago