By Michael Liswaniso
A San family finds itself between a rock and a hard place after enduring more than eight months of suffering at a village called Oruhona 50 km north of Opuwo.
The family ended up at Oruhona village after an NDF member employed them as labourers.
The soldier brought them to work on his land as labourers but their life has been a living hell as they ended up depending on food handouts from good Samaritans.
“We came here with a new hope of life but only to endure suffering. We came here hoping to make some money,” explained the leader of the group, 45-year-old Johannes Mukuke who spoke in Rukwangali through a translator.
According to Mukuke, the group has all along been living on handouts from good Samaritans as well as Government’s drought relief programmes even in the Kavango region where they hail from.
Mukuke said he together with the rest of the group had been living at a village called Sitenda in the Kavango for many years until last year when they were approached by a man whom they only know as ‘Kavari’. The man works for the NDF at Rundu.
According to them, Kavari approached them to help him clear up his vast communal land and fence it for farming purposes as well as to do other domestic chores at his cattle post.
They claim they were to perform these duties for an unspecified monthly allowance from him. But to date, they have received not a cent from him, according to the group.
They say when they came from Kavango, Kavari bought them food. The food however did not last for a month. He promised to buy more food should their consignment run out.
He left for Kavango then where he is employed by the Ministry of Defence as a soldier.
They say the last time they saw him was last year when he dropped them. He has since not delivered anything as initially promised.
“We even don’t know where he is now – the last time we saw him was some several months ago,” said Karungu Kampanza, the wife to Mukuke.
Mukuke noted that because they could not stand suffering and fearing that one of them might succumb to death as a result of starvation, they decided to foot from Oruhona to Opuwo assuming that there they would receive help and possibly if lucky, get a free ride back to Kavango.
While in Opuwo, the group proceeded to Alfa, some 15 kilometers away wishing they would find help there. At Alfa, the group slept under a tree with their children without any money and food for a month.
“We could only eat when good Samaritans gave something to our children – that is how we survived until last week when someone directed us to the police to seek help,” narrated Mukuke who added that at the police station, the group were directed to approach the Kunene Regional Council for support and help.
The regional council availed two tents for the group and purchased some food for them.
They are still camping at the premises of the regional council hoping to return to Kavango any day.
“I just pray that people and Government could come to our rescue because when we were brought here, we thought we will make a living only to find that here it is worse,” said one group member, Joseph Kanjimi, who despite looking youthful and estimated to be in his mid-twenties claims he is 40 years old.
Efforts to reach Kavari proved futile as it was said that he is on leave.
Kunene Regional Council employee facilitating the return of the family, Thuys Kuuoko said when council was approached, his office felt very touched given the fact that the suffering citizens are from a vulnerable group in society and are originally not from Kunene and thus decided to perform a notable social responsibility.
“Council sat down and decided to help where possible. These are the vulnerable people in society and imagine that they had walked from Oruhona up to here,” noted Kuuoko.
If things go as planned according to Kuuoko, the family may be transported back to Kavango this week.
Other sources indicate that some officials have already approached the newly inaugurated labour office to possibly have Kavari questioned on why he exploited this San family.