Obituary: Niko Bessinger

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He Stood Up to Apartheid Regime

By Pius Dunaiski

I would appreciate some space in your esteemed paper to pay public homage to Niko Bessinger (1948- 2008).

Niko died on 25 March 2008, four days after Namibia’s National Day of Independence, which symbolizes the very dream of liberation for which he gave his youth and life before he expired due to a heart attack in the morning hours following a long and tough battle against cancer. (The untimely deaths of Niko and John Alfons Pandeni, on 14 March 2008, have sandwiched our Independence Day celebrations
and caused joy to be mingled with sadness).

I was shocked and saddened when I was told of the passing away of Niko and went the same day to his home in Khomasdal with a friend, Pastor Fred Joseph, to share in the grief of the bereaved family, friends, comrades and other relatives and to extend our sincerest condolences and sympathies.

At the home, we attempted to console the mourners by highlighting the enormous contribution of this Namibian hero (I thank the President for having accorded him this honour). We told the small gathering there that Niko’s family and friends should be proud of his legacy. In this context, I stressed the apt manner in which Niko’s life was nationally honoured as he appears at the new State House in a portrait where he features as part of the first Cabinet (with other SWAPO Party icons in a new Namibia) of the Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma.

Fred and I also told the people at Niko’s home how his death brought back to memory a journalistic scoop when we managed to smuggle out a dooming document that exposed devilish plans of the apartheid regime to hijack 435 and to block SWAPO from a two-thirds majority.

In a front-page article during the first week of June 1989 in The Namibian, we caused a furore and political embarrassment of great proportions to the SA political forces in Namibia. The document, which was marked ‘Top Secret’ laid out a plan hatched in Windhoek and Terrace Bay by Apartheid SA and the internal political parties to manipulate the independence elections in their favour.

I believe that report was a sort of turning point in the propaganda war against SWAPO by the Apartheid SA regime. They (South Africans) were riding the moral and propaganda high wave and basking in the light of the so-called invasion of PLAN fighters on 1 April 1989 but the expos??????’??

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