WINDHOEK - Otjozondjupa Region Police Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo has warned opposing Herero factions against breaking the law during the historic annual Red Flag Heroes’ Day celebrations sche-duled for this weekend at Okahandja.
Anghuwo issued the warning when he addressed the factions during a meeting on Tuesday in Windhoek, which was attended by
Paramount Herero Chief Kauima Riruako’s camp and the Kambazembi, Zeraeua, Mureti, Maharero and Vita royal houses.
This follows a notice to cancel the historic event, which was sent to Riruako’s camp earlier this month.
The royal houses sent the notice following last year’s celebration, which was marred by disturbances. Police had to be called in to avoid clashes between the two rival groups that were disputing the location of the holy fire.
The holy fire was moved to the west from the east - where it had been located for almost 90 years.
“If any group is on the wrong side of the law, we will use maximum force [if necessary],” Commissioner Anghuwo warned.
He said the Namibian police have put in place maximum security measures to avoid violence.
“The leaders must control their subjects or they [the leaders] will be held responsible,” Anghuwo cautioned.
A report was expected to be sent to Nampol’s Inspector-General, Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday with recommendations, according to Anghuwo.
Anghuwo further blamed the National Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) Otjiherero radio station for airing threatening messages that could foment violence.
Despite the warning, Secretary of the Secretariat of the Kambazembi, Zeraeua, Mureti, Maharero and Vita royal houses, Ueriuka Tjikuua, said that he could not guarantee that the event would be peaceful.
“Any leader is expected to control his subjects,” he said.
Advisor to the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Dr Hoze Riruako, said his group intends to attend the commemoration peacefully and guaranteed that they would stay within the law.
“We have no intentions of causing havoc and we welcome the police to keep peace and order,” he said.
Chief Riruako said the public should expect a peaceful commemoration. He explained that Tjikuua and his group started with threats when he allegedly said on NBC’s Otjiherero language service that the person who stopped them is no longer alive, allegedly referring to the late chief Alphons Maharero.
According to Riruako, this was clearly provocative.
“They attempted to take us to court, now they are attempting to use scare tactics,” he said, referring to alleged threats of bloodshed during the commemoration.
During the meeting, Riruako advised that each group should have their own commemoration on two separate days to avoid any clashes.
“This is the most mature way of handling the crisis,” he said, adding that his camp is willing to use a separate date for next year’s commemoration.
“It is terrible to put tense groups together,” he cautioned.