The remaining group of 38 ‘struggle kids’ are deep in mourning following the sudden death of their colleague 35-year-old Shemuvalula Soini, who was found dead on Sunday afternoon in his shack at Okahandja Park.
Soini, who together with other ‘struggle kids’ in 2013 embarked on a long journey from the north to Windhoek in their quest for employment, was discovered dead in his plastic make-shift structure by his friends at around 14h00.
When this reporter visited the camp at Okahandja Park yesterday, the group was visibly shaken and saddened by his sudden departure. The group said Soini was not a sickly person and visited the Katutura State Hospital last Thursday complaining of a minor cough.
He apparently returned to the camp and since that day he had spent most of the time in his shack.
On Sunday, some of the group members said, they left for church and when they returned Soini was lying motionless on his bed. They then called some of his relatives, who in turn called the police who pronounced him dead at around 14h00.
Group spokesperson Sisko Anna Toivo described Soini as a brave and active person who participated in all their demonstrations either to the Swapo Party head office or other government agencies such as the prime minister’s office to petition their demands for jobs.
“He was a brave guy. We walked with him from Outapi on January 16, 2013. He was always actively involved in our quest for jobs. It is so sad he died before he could finish his course to secure a job he wanted most,” she reminisced.
Another member, Abraham Hamupembe, remembered Soini as a “true comrade” who was humble at the same time.
“He called me on Thursday and he sounded fine. When we went to church we left him seated outside sunbathing.
Before we left I asked him whether everything was fine. Then he responded saying he was fine. After church we realised our fellow comrade was looking bad and then we called his relatives who later informed the police before he was declared dead,” he said.
He went on to say: “I suspect he was depressed too, as he constantly complained about government’s delay in giving us jobs. He would often complain about how tired he was of living in danger and deplorable conditions in this riverbed.”
They said his sudden death badly affected one of their comrades, who was taken to hospital for shock the same day.
The group reiterated their call for government to look into their plight. The group say they live in relentless fear as criminals have also been hiding around their shacks, while deadly snakes regularly slither around. Since the group embarked on their quest at least four of their members are known to have since passed on including the late Frieda Ndatipo who was shot dead last year near the Swapo Party headquarters in Windhoek, following a clash between the ‘struggle kids’ and the police in a shooting that still remains a mystery.
Another tragedy strike the group during one of the 2013 demonstrations, when one of their activists Titus Mweshininga Ita allegedly died due to internal injuries following alleged police brutality, which took place during an eviction of the ‘struggle kids’ from a camp near the Swapo Party offices. Apparently Ita, who was deaf, sustained fatal internal injuries and had needed an urgent operation. He was, however, never operated on and died in the Katutura State Hospital. He originated from Onangalo village (Uukwaluudhi), in Omusati Region.
The group have called on their organisation – Namibia Exile Kids Association (NEKA) – to do more to help them.