More Than Meets the Eye

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There is more to the incident in Aminuis last weekend – where one man was shot dead after a dispute over the opening of an office by followers of Chief Alfons Maharero of Otjinene – than meets the eye. The parties to the dispute – followers of Chief Maharero and traditional leader Immanuel Kavari of Aminuis as well as the police – have given conflicting versions about what really transpired on this fateful day that culminated in the loss of one life. On the surface, the fight in Aminuis was between followers of Ewald Kazongominja and Immanuel Kavari. The two men are traditional councillors – one under the Chieftaincy of Alfons Maharero and another under Kuaima Riruako. Both Maharero and Riruako are Herero Chiefs. Maharero’s seat of ‘governance’ is at Otjinene in the Otjozondjupa Region while Riruako has applied to have his seat of Chieftaincy at Aminuis. Kazongominja under Maharero is a government paid traditional councillor and wants to open an office in Aminuis while Kavari has not been recognized by government but is leader of his followers in Aminuis. Kavari’s followers feel that Kazongominja is being imposed on their area while they have already elected a traditional leader for the area. However, conventional practice is that traditional councillors from a single customary community can administer customary affairs in a single constituency or area of jurisdiction. The law is silent on this issue. The only exception being chiefs, where the law is very clear that chiefs from the same customary community may not have one area of jurisdiction except by consent. In other words, Kuaima Riruako and Alfons Maharero may not have Aminuis as their seat except by agreement but Riruako and Chief Justus Garoeb of the Damaras for example can. And so with Kazongominja and Kavari. And this is apparently what sparked the latest feud that led to the death of Theboy Hiiho on Friday night. But behind this faÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚§ade is another issue – politics. It too may have played a significant part in unravelling the undercurrent that boiled into an armed showdown. It is believed that Kazongominja is a supporter of the DTA while Kavari is said to be from the arch-rival NUDO. The two parties have a short history of being extremist and confrontational when it comes to matters that affect them. Their supporters have in the past physically clashed. They have shown remote or utter inability to co-exist. It is this attitude that may have led to the bubble bursting in Aminuis last weekend. The good news is that the Chief of the Namibian Police General Sebastian Ndeitunga has taken a personal interest in the case. General Ndeitunga warned residents from the beginning to desist from any unlawful acts. He has now sent an investigating team to Aminuis to probe this very serious matter. At the heart of this case is public safety apart from the tragic death of Hiiho. Public safety is at stake and needs to be reassured. Lawlessness cannot be allowed. At the same time, some residents of Aminuis are unhappy with the conduct of the police. They charge that the police threatened them. In fact, they accuse the police of having indiscriminately shot at armed civilians on this day. They too need to be reassured that the Namibian police are impartial and are there to protect everybody irrespective. The freedom and the rights of all citizens must be safe-guarded. That is why it is necessary that a thorough investigation be carried out. Those who broke the law must be dealt with in the most appropriate manner.