By John Ekongo
The late Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Alfons Pandeni, has been declared a hero.
The conferment of hero status on Pandeni means he will be accorded a full state funeral at the Heroes Acre, on the outskirts of Windhoek.
Pandeni will be buried on Saturday March 29, two weeks after his untimely death on March 14, in a horrific car accident, making him the country’s first-ever Cabinet minister to die in a road accident.
The late Pandeni’s body will be taken to his home village of Omundjalala at Anamulenge district of the Omusati Region on Sunday, March 23.
The Governor of Omusati Region, Sackey Kayone, confirmed to New Era that the remains of the late minister would arrive at his parents’ home at Omundjalala on Sunday, where the body will remain overnight before a memorial service on Sunday and Monday.
The body returns to Windhoek on Monday afternoon before his funeral at the Heroes Acre.
Pandeni was a People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) member. He was a Political Commissar in PLAN. He was one of a few elite fighters who infiltrated Namibia well into the south of the country during the years of occupation.
Him and his colleagues were responsible for sabotage missions in the central and southern region, during the period 1976 to 1978 with the aim to destabilise the former South African forces and force them to relinquish power.
Their mission of sabotage went unnoticed until July 1978 when Pandeni and Petrus Iilonga were arrested alongside Willem Biwa in June that year. They were sentenced to 18 years on Robben Island.
Pandeni leaves behind his parents, Tate John Shikongo Pandeni, his mother Gerbhardte, his wife, Julia, and four children, Iita, Pendukeni, Shafa and Vilho.
Pandeni’s father is well-known in the Catholic Church circles of Namibia, and was one of the first teachers to be trained by the St Joseph High School (D??????’??