By Catherine Sasman
An undisclosed number of former South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) members who met recently in the south of the country said they still want answers concerning a N$36-million payout at independence.
Solomon Vleermuis claims that while this money was to be split between the disbanding SWATF members and ex-PLAN fighters, “99 percent of the SWATF members did not get a cent”.
“Those that did get money from this fund got a one-off N$1 350,” Vleermuis claimed.
He claimed that the money was specifically meant for the SWATF members, but due to an ultimatum by SWAPO, it was decided to have the money disbursed among the ex-SWATF forces and former PLAN fighters.
The South African Government is said to have contributed N$24 million, while the new Namibian Government gave N$12 million for this exercise.
While it was not made clear what steps the former SWATF members would take to get answers, Vleermuis said they are fed up with Government’s attitude towards them.
“We are not prepared to take any nonsense; they [the Government] are arrogant,” Vleermuis said.
Minister of War Veterans Ngarikutuke Tjiriange said he did not wish to get involved in a futile exchange of words with the former SWATF members, advising them to go through the right channels to raise their concerns.
He also said he had no knowledge of how the money was disbursed at the time.
Former Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob said the disbursement of the money was done through Standard Bank, adding that no arm of Government was involved in the disbursement.
Vleermuis claimed that the former SWATF members were also to benefit from a SWA Forces Foundation, but had not.
Diederik Jankowitz (Snr), career soldier in the South African Defence Force (SADF) prior to independence, and Director of Finance, Administration and Support Services in the Namibian Defence Force for the first three years after 1990, said the SWA Forces Foundation, which later changed to the Ministry of Defence Foundation, had at the time of disarmament no money.
“When the South Africans pulled out, the accounts of this foundation were closed, but the foundation never had much money,” said Jankowitz.
The remaining asset of the foundation at the time, he said, was Mile 4 just north of Swakopmund, which is still owned by the NDF.
The funds in the foundation, said Jankowitz, came from contributions from the soldiers, with the current soldiers contributing to the defence foundation.
He confirmed that the N$36 million was “never” on the budget of the defence ministry.
“It was a totally political thing,” he said, adding that the purpose of the money was to “look after the former combatants”.
“SWATF members got a raw deal from the South African Government when they should have been given retrenchment packages at demobilisation,” Jankowitz said.