By Anna Ingwafa
A local businessman at Oshifukwa in Omuthiya Constituency inadvertently put his life in danger, as well as those around him, by storing live rounds of ammunition that he picked up from an old SADF army base.
Armas Amukoto, a scrap metal dealer sells old aluminum, copper and bronze that he gets from villagers who collect the metal scraps from disused car chassis, among other sources. Little did it dawn on him, however, that the ‘metal’ might be live 90mm, 88mm rockets and highly explosive anti-tank fuses.
Villagers collect old materials that include old pots and unexploded rockets and take them to Amukoto’s house where he weighs them and pays for them per kilogramme.
Oshana police on Monday came to Amukoto’s residence, a few kilometres from Omuthiya and to their surprise most of the metals collected were live explosives used during the apartheid era bush war between the colonial South African army and Swapo.
Chief Inspector John Nangutuwala confirmed to New Era that the areas of Oshivelo and King Kauluma were used as shooting ranges by colonial forces and that they still pose grave danger to people living there.
Contacted for comment, Amukoto appeared to be unaware of the dangers posed by the unexploded ammunition. Amukoto’s wife also commented that she was not aware that the explosives posed any danger, as they looked old.
Nangutuwala has issued a warning to business people dealing in scrap material to be extra careful.
“Dealing with scrap does not mean it is illegal, but it should be stated clearly in the certificate of fitness of an applicant what type of aluminum they are collecting, but not explosive devices.”
He also warned villagers to refrain from collecting explosives because they could result in permanent disability and loss of lives. He urged them to abide by the ‘Don’t Touch It, Report It,’ campaign.
Nangutuwala said collection of unused explosives happened a few years back when a certain businessman from Tsumeb who ran a similar business unknowingly picked up explosives. But later it resulted in one collector losing an eye after he detonated an explosive that was collected as scrap metal. He added that these explosives pose a danger to children and villagers that collect them since the explosives are kept at homesteads.
A warrant officer from the Explosive Unit in Oshikoto Region, Peter Nepunda, and his team destroyed some of the devices on Monday. Nepunda said they would go back to Amukoto’s house to look through the scrap metal and destroy the rest of the explosives, if any.