Celebrating our heroes: Sackaria Barakias Namuandi, an untold story of Namibia’s youngest political prisoner

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Sakaria Namuandi is one of the unsung heroes of the Namibian liberation struggle. He joined the struggle at a very tender age. He espoused bravery, commitment and dedication to the cause of the struggle.

He is among a few who stand unique in Namibia’s history, as one of the youngest political prisoners to have been convicted and serve his prison sentence.

Namuandi was born on 28 October 1968 and grew up at Oneputa, near Oshigambo in Oshikoto Region. His first encounter with combatants of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) was in 1979 at his village, while he was aged 11.

From that day he developed a liking for SWAPO guerrilla fighters. In 1983, at the tender age of 15, he received military training from PLAN fighters, like Sem Elago, nom de guerre Shikongo Sha Kalulu, who operated around Oshigambo area and was feared by the enemy soldiers; John Namupala and Kleopas Iita, nom de guerre Konamvula.

He worked closely with many PLAN combatants in the team of Shikongo sha Kalulu, which included James-Jimmy.
Sakaria was trained how to handle and use guns and explosives. Most of these activities were carried out during the night. He was further taught how to store explosives protected from being damaged. He learned how to distinguish true freedom fighters from the enemy soldiers, in order not to be trapped.

Sakaria carried out reconnaissance activities for the PLAN combatants, as being a teenager, he could not be suspected. One day on 21 June 1985, he was busy presenting his reports to the combatants when the enemy soldiers closed on them.

As it was too late to escape, a fight broke out and he took cover with the soldiers, ducking bullets. With the gunfire and smoke engulfing them, he found an opportunity to escape unhurt. Two soldiers died in the battle. Two other soldiers escaped to the house of Comrade Abner Ndjambula, at Omwandi, Oniipa, a well-known locally trained combatant and businessman, where they were provided with a vehicle to escape.

Like any other freedom fighter, Sakaria’s involvement in the liberation struggle did not go unnoticed by the enemy. In July 1985, following an arrest of some combatants, Sakaria was visited by the enemy soldiers and severely beaten.

They were demanding that he must show them where he hid explosives and guns for PLAN combatants. He refused to divulge any information and was further beaten and left unconscious.

On 27 August 1985, the enemy soldiers arrived at Oneputa with a list of wanted terrorists, which included Sakaria’s name. He went to hide at one house of a family friend, Comrade Nevonga Uugwanga. As the search for him intensified, he spent the 28th August at Onandjokwe hospital, as he knew that soldiers will not be looking for freedom fighters at the hospital. Arrangements were being made to connect with combatant Shikongo who would take Sakaria to safety in exile.

Sakaria returned to the Uugwanga residence in the evening. The same evening, the enemy soldiers went to his family and severely beat them up until they revealed where they were hiding him. He was then arrested and taken to Oshakati Koevoet Base, where he was interrogated and tortured.

He was later transferred to Mururani and then Osire detention centres.
In June 1986, Sakaria, together with other political detainees were transferred to the Windhoek Central Prison and appeared before the Windhoek magistrate. The case was postponed and they were remanded in custody. After another year of appearing and adjournments, he was finally convicted and on 22 May 1987, he was sentenced to three years, with 18 months suspended. He was released on 22 November 1988.

Upon release, he was admitted at Oshigambo High School where he mobilised learners under the auspices of the Namibian National Students Organisation (NANSO).
The rest is history.

Sakaria is currently working as chief control officer at the Elim Constiuency Office.

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