Omatando – Some former People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighters who risked life and limb during the liberation struggle have questioned the criteria being used by the national leadership and Swapo Party when deciding who should be honoured and buried at Heroes Acre.
During an emotionally-charged memorial service of the late Peter Norte Ekandjo, his fellow former PLAN fighters tasked the Director General of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service, Phillemon Malima, to convey the message to other seniors that “freedom fighters that joined the liberation struggle from 1974 are not happy.”
Malima told the gathering he would convey the message to the country and party’s leadership.
“I want to assure the veterans who conveyed the emotional message here today that this is a very serious message and we as leaders of this country have to relook this situation. We will leave no stone unturned if that is an omission,” said Malima.
Both Sam Hashondali Samuel and Jonas Amunyela criticized decisions taken by their seniors in identifying freedom fighters who deserve to be accorded prestigious burials.
According to them if fairness were applied, Ekandjo would have been buried at Heroes Acre or at least accorded a state funeral, but none of that was done in honour of the sacrifices he made for the independence of Namibia.
“Namibians, let’s tell the truth. Swapo members let’s tell the truth. Are the people that joined the liberation struggle in 1974 not worth it, or is Heroes Acre only reserved for politicians?” asked Samuel.
According to Amunyela, so far the only foot soldier buried at Heroes Acre is the former chief of the Namibian Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Dimo Amaambo.
“Until today the grave of Mesag Namwandi is just there at Okaandje village without a tombstone. Mesag Namwandi was one of the Ongulumbashe six, but look at how his memory is honoured. Kandanga was buried at Heroes Acre, Kafindika was taken to Okongo. Peter was supposed to be buried at Heroes Acre, but now he is not even accorded a state funeral.”
“If it were not for the foot soldiers Swapo would have been destroyed. The military front was very tough. But if Heroes Acre is reserved for politicians only, it should be made clear,” said Amunyela.
Retired Lieutenant-General Martin Shalli who was one of the commanders at the time of the war said he blamed the colonial South Africa army troops for the untimely death of Ekandjo.
“Peter and Jerobeam spent days in hell. They were tortured day and night. I blame his death entirely on the South Africans,” he said.
“They beat him severely, electrocuted him, tortured him psychologically but he never gave in. When he fled from captivity the marks of the hell he endured were visible all over his body. I blame them entirely, they are responsible [for his untimely death] and I shall never forgive them. To hell with them,” said an emotional Shalli.
Apart from being a former PLAN fighter Ekandjo also authored two books about his life as a freedom fighter and the liberation war. He finished high school as an adult after independence and then obtained several qualifications up to a MBA degree.
“He dedicated his entire life to the service of people. He inspired many people, he mobilized many people, and he made many people to understand that freedom will come at a cost. I read his book six times.
“This is the only book I have seen with the right information about the struggle,” said Shalli who previously served as chief of the defence force.