Ex-soldiers told to abide by city by-laws

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Selma Ikela

Windhoek-The City of Windhoek and City Police held a meeting with the former Koevoet and South West Africa Territorial (SWATF) soldiers camping at the residence of the late OvaHerero Chief Kauaima Riruako on how and why they should conduct themselves within the boundaries of the city, noting that they must comply with the city’s by-laws or face fines.

Nendongo Nathaniel from the City Police’s crime prevention unit advised the formers soldiers and their spouses not to occupy land illegally, noting that some former soldiers have relocated to a nearby riverbed, where they now live.

“If you illegally grab land you will be fined and arrested. Land must be given to you in a proper manner,” Nathaniel explained to the former soldiers during a meeting at Commando Hall on Friday.

Nathaniel also cautioned members of the group against consuming alcohol in public, against lighting fires and urinating in public. He said drinking liquor, urinating in public or open-air defecation all come with a fine of N$1 000.

He also cautioned members armed with traditional weapons and said they should rather leave their weapons in their tents instead of going out in public with such weapons.

About 1000 former SWATF and Koevoet members have been camping at Commando since they travelled to Windhoek from Opuwo in the Kunene Region last year in protest over government’s refusal to recognise them as war veterans – an honour that would entitle them to a war veteran grant of N$2200 per month.

Members of the group now live in tents. There are over 100 tents inside the yard at Commando. Some are even set up inside the main house and one elder placed his tent inside the bathroom.

Manager of Health Services in the department of Economic Development and Environment at the City of Windhoek Mary-Anne Kahitu told the group that urban laws are restrictive and relieving themselves in public is simply not allowed. “We haven’t fined any person yet, because we first wanted to have a meeting with you,” she said.

She noted that the group of ex-soldiers lives in an overcrowded space and that this is not in line with the stipulations of the Public Health Act, but added that they understand the ex-soldiers’ situation, as the group is in Windhoek for a specific purpose.

“One incident that we can relate to is urinating and relieving themselves in public, because they simply don’t have enough toilets and as a result they go in public and other facilities. We’re aware of their predicament. As long as they are here we are not committing to provide toilets facilities. We will consult different stakeholders, such as the government and Red Cross, to decide and agree on the way forward.”

Namvet chairperson Jabulani Ndeunyema said the meeting was organised by City Police Chief Abraham Kanime and NUDO Councillor Joseph Kauandenge to address the problems of the former soldiers camping in the riverbed. “We suggested the meeting shouldn’t only focus on those soldiers, but also their security, behaviour and public hygiene,” Ndeunyema said.

Ndeunyema further asked if the City of Windhoek can provide them with two mobile toilets and a tent since it has been raining hard of late and a large number of the former Koevoet and SWATF soldiers camping at Commando Hall are from rural Opuwo, where there is a lack of ablution facilities and where people normally relieve themselves in the bush.

The municipal officials who attended the meeting will report back to the their seniors before a decision is made.

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