Robben Island veteran succumbs to cancer

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Windhoek

A former Robben Island prisoner Sakaria Ndeutepo succumbed to cancer yesterday morning in the Windhoek Central Hospital.

Ndeutepo, who was a well-known businessman in the north, had a long battle with cancer. He died at the age of 86. An official in the Directorate of Veterans Affairs in the Presidency said Ndeutepo had received medical treatment paid for by the ministry.

He leaves behind his wife, Ester Kapiye, and four children. Ndeutepo was described as brave and humble. Fellow former inmate on Robben Island and the former leader of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) Ben Ulenga expressed shock and sadness over Ndeutepo’s passing.

“I am shocked to hear about this sad news and you are the one to break it to me. I am out of town, and that’s why I probably didn’t hear it,” said Ulenga. Ulenga said he was a comrade, adding that he was arrested for assisting and feeding guerrillas.

“He was a stopover for fighters into and out of the country. His place was popular as a stopover for guerrillas and he was reported by collaborators and then arrested. He was a very comradely person. He was helpful, strong-minded and spirited. It is very sad thing to lose him and not to have him anymore. It is difficult to fill his place, but we should be strengthened in the knowledge that he helped us a lot in life,” said Ulenga.

Ulenga conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family especially the widow and the couple’s children. The 81-year-old former Robben Island prisoner Helao Shityuwete also remembered Ndeutepo as a humble and brave man. Shityuwete said he met Ndeutepo in prison in 1979 but he (Ndeutepo) did not stay long as he was set free in the early 80s. “He didn’t stay long in prison. But he used to tell us that he used to escort PLAN fighters at his farm so that they could cross into exile. He was then arrested on those grounds and sent to Robben Island. While in prison he appealed his sentence, which he won in a short time and was released.” “I was not aware of his sickness. We send our condolences to the family members and may his soul rest in eternal peace,” Shityuwete, who was also shocked to hear of the passing of his comrade, symphasised. He lived in Omuthiya gwiipundi in the Oshikoto Region with his family, although most of his businesses were based in Ohangwena Region. A family member who spoke on behalf of the widow said some family members would be travelling to the north today and it was too early to announce any funeral arrangements.

Ndeutepo was among the founders of Swapo who included Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Ben Ulenga, Fillemon Shitilifa, Lazarus Sakaria and Hidipo Haufiku, to name but a few who were imprisoned on Robben Island.
Early this year, the nation also mourned the death of a former Robben Island prisoner, who was also a former president of Swanu, Gerson Hitjevi Veii.

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