Ex-combatant comes home 35 years later

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Omatunda

Daniel Haiwila, a 51-year-old ex-combatant discovered last month in Angola by a relative, came home to his family on Friday, 35 years after leaving Namibia to join the armed liberation struggle.

His arrival prompted Ohangwena Regional Governor Usko Nghaamwa to announce that he is going to inform the veterans affairs ministry, as well as the Office of the President about Haiwila’s arrival.

Nghaamwa, who was on his way to Haiwila’s residence when contacted by New Era, said: “These are people that we have grown up with, because he came from my village. I know him.”

Haiwila went into exile in 1980, but could not be repatriated in 1989, as apparently at that time he was admitted to hospital due to injuries sustained in the war.

He had been shot in the head and left leg, and had to undergo operations, he said. By the time he was discharged from hospital his compatriots had already been repatriated to Namibia.

Haiwila was discovered last month by a relative, a niece who in a one-in-a-million coincidence travelled to one of the villages in Angola’s southern province of Cunene, where Haiwila was living.

The niece, Ndapewoshali Shikongo, had travelled to Ohaindele village, just east of Oihole, to sell her merchandise. It was there she found her uncle, whom the family has long presumed dead.

Shikongo said Daniel went into exile in the 1980s and joined the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), but when he was not repatriated together with other exiles in 1989, the family presumed him dead.

A tearful Haiwila narrated that he has been searching for his family for a very long time. “I’ve tried several times to come home, but I didn’t have money to come home. I’ve been coming into Namibia looking for my family, but I could not get hold of them. I didn’t know who is alive and who had passed on,” he said.

An evidently emotional Haiwila said he has for a very long time been struggling just to survive and has always wanted to come home to end the suffering.

Haiwila’s sister, Ester, could not believe her eyes and says the family has for years made enquiries regarding his whereabouts, but to no avail. Haiwila said he has five children – including triplets – with a Portuguese woman he lived with for more than 25 years. She, however, passed on after being hit by a car.

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