Foreigner Responsible for Attacks on Cassinga Is in Namibia


By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek A survivor of the Cassinga attack on May 4, 1978, Willy-Mary Amutenya says there is no need to commemorate the day if some of the perpetrators of the deaths of hundreds of Namibian refugees in Angola are currently living peacefully in Namibia and enjoying the fruits of independence. Amutenya lost his right arm and was captured on that fateful day. He was later imprisoned near Mariental. Amutenya alleges that the foreign national who was responsible for the attacks on Cassinga and Shetekera refugee camps is currently in Namibia working for the government. He said he saw the foreign national for the first time in 1978, months before the attacks in May. He said the foreign national came to the Shetekera camp, also known as “Vietnam”, with some party leaders and posed as someone willing to help the refugees at the camp. The man apparently took pictures of the camp and recorded all the signals that were used at the camp. “We even showed him the road we used to enter Angola through Ruacana and all the operations at the camp.” Amutenya narrated that on May 4, 1978, the South African forces first attacked Cassinga from the early morning hours, and at midday they started to attack Vietnam where he was. “The attack started at midday and lasted for six hours. First, they started with air strikes and then moved in with the Casspirs.” He added that at the end of the attack, a siren went off and all the survivors at the camp were moved to a site close to a dam. “I saw the foreign national, together with the South African soldiers, still wearing the same type of trousers, and we recognized him.” Amutenya said that after his arrest he was taken to a detention camp at Oshakati and, while there, a Major in the South African army came with a picture of the same foreign national and told them that the foreign national was responsible for the attack on Cassinga. Amutenya further claimed that after some months they were moved to a prison near Mariental where they were held. While in detention, two members of the military police came with a South African military bulletin, which was called ‘Apparatus’. “The two officials showed me my picture in the Apparatus during the attack at Vietnam and also a picture of the same foreign national, and told us that he had made the attack at Cassinga and Vietnam possible.” Amutenya further told New Era that, after his release from prison where he spent eight years, he went to London and met Swapo Party representative in the UK, Shapwa Kaukungwa, together with Justin Ellis and George Iita and warned them about the foreign national. “We went to the archives and I showed them the picture of the foreign national in the Apparatus.” Amutenya said that after independence he was informed by Iita that the foreign national was in the country and had earlier applied for the position of Director-General of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). “Iita also told me that the foreign national had business interests in South Africa, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).” Amutenya also revealed that last year, he and other survivors of Cassinga went to see the Founding President, Sam Nujoma, and informed him about the foreign national. He added that he also informed the Minister of Justice, Pendukeni Ithana, about the same person. He said it was painful for victims of Cassinga to know that the person who had betrayed them was still in Namibia and that even in the context of reconciliation, it was simply unfair to the victims. “Knowing that the man is still around here is a continuation of betrayal.” Cassinga was a refugee camp where 3ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 Namibians – mainly children, women and old people – lived. The most deadly raid into Angola took place on May 4, 1978. The refugee camp, Cassinga, was attacked, and 867 people were killed, 464 wounded and 200 captured by the SADF. They were forced to return to Namibia. It was mostly women, children and the elderly people who were killed at the camp, which was used by Swapo as a transit centre for people crossing from Namibia into Angola. Cassinga Day, on May 4th, is a public holiday in Namibia and falls on Friday.