Peter Ekandjo: The Jungle Fighter… The clandestine mission to Grootfontein

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Peter_Ekandjo Jungle Fighter The_Jungle_Fighter

IN August 1985, I went to Grootfontein to identify possible candidates for cultivation and recruitment into future urban units, create support in that area and to familiarise myself with the military infrastructure there.

I went to Matheus’ house. Matheus was the owner of a house where we slept when we passed through Grootfontein on our way to Lüderitz with Cde Nanyemba in February 1985. Matheus knew that I was a PLAN fighter. He was familiar with PLAN fighters because he had worked with them for sometime in the northern part of the country. I had some trust in him therefore I had little reason to worry about his competence to protect and assist me whenever necessary in executing my assignment in Grootfontein.

Gootfontein was fully militarised, therefore, it was not a playing field for learners. Every third house in the location housed either a soldier or a family member of someone working for the enemy security forces.

Fortunately, Matheus’ wife was in Ovamboland at that time. He only had a school-going boy, who used to attend classes every morning, therefore the risk of being suspected and reported to the local security agents was minimal.
During the time I was in Gootfontein, I spent a lot of the time interacting with people of interest – people that in my own judgment could be developed into future urban fighters in the Grootfontein area and elsewhere in the urban centres across the country.

I also spent much of my time identifying vulnerable targets for future attacks by my unit. These were my primary preoccupations in Grootfontein. I had interacted directly with some residents of the town, including enemy collaborators who obviously did not know who I was.

I was not supposed to keep myself hostage in the house, as my task was to work with people for the people of Namibia. Neither was I to create a comfort zone for myself in the town, as that would constitute a betrayal to the liberation struggle.

As far as I was concerned, mine was a practical assignment that required practical implementation. I needed to see and to be seen within the community of the town because that was the only way I could separate the beans from the stalks in a studious manner.

I visited the entrance of the Grootfontein military base twice where I studied the security arrangements and procedures of entering the base. Another area of interest was to learn how the base was protected from outside – barbed wire and sandbags placed on top of earth mounds as well as spotlights and watchtowers were part of the security arrangements around the base.

The last time I visited the base, I had an opportunity to talk to one soldier who was standing a distance from the entrance waiting for transport. This soldier appeared innocent as he was either sick or had lost interest in serving in the force. I introduced myself to him as a job-seeker who was interested in joining the security forces. He responded by asking whether I wanted to go and die, as SWAPO ‘terrorists’ were killing people on a daily basis. He also advised me to go inside the base to meet the commanders, as he was not the one who employed people in the army.

When I asked him whether I would be allowed to pass through the entrance of the base, he advised me to get another job rather than join the army. I left him there waiting for his transport.

I had observed many people passing through the entrance without being searched and trucks also passing without being subjected to any search. This was one of the largest military bases in colonised Namibia, with thousands of troops and jetfighters housed in there.

I spent more than four weeks in Grootfontein interacting with many people. I did pay special attention to those people that I considered likely candidates for recruitment into future urban units and those that could serve as part of the supporting network. Although I did not start the recruitment exercise that time, I had done a lot of groundwork for future considerations during follow-up visits.

Upon arrival in Ovamboland, I went to Enolyexaya village to rest after a hectic trip to Grootfontein. While at Enolyexaya, I thought of building my own homestead at one of the nearby villages south of Enolyexaya where the enemy rarely conduced patrols. I needed a permanent address to back up my cover story for wherever I went. This address had to be in an area where residents did not suspect me to be a ‘terrorist’ yet they knew who I was. The strategy of building my own homestead was that in the event that the enemy arrested me, I would be able to use that address knowing that even if taken there villagers would be able to say I was from there.

My strategy was that once I built my homestead, I would then have to marry someone who was not familiar with my real assignment and connection to the liberation movement.

Although this was one of the options I was encouraged to follow once I fully established myself inside Namibia, I felt that there was still a need for this plan to be formally approved by the leadership at the provincial headquarters in Lubango, or elsewhere within the movement’s top hierarchy.

This assignment needed a credible, plausible cover story and infrastructure capable of withstanding enemy probes on my personal particulars and addresses whenever that need arose in the future. It would be foolish and unprofessional of me to use addresses where nobody knew me. My long-term survival would thus be based on what to say whenever approached by the enemy security forces wherever they met me.

• The book is available at the Book Den near Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek, Etunda filling station in Otavi, Omuthiya filling station, Okapana filling station in Ondangwa, Highway filling station (Selector) Ongwediva, Spar Shop Ongwediva, Book of Namibia in Ondangwa, Oshakati and Outapi, Hosea Kutako International Airport and at Bush War Publication in Durban South Africa.

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