Windhoek-There are about 3,885 former South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet soldiers, many of whom due to the many military battles that they endured against PLAN combatants (then Swapo’s military wing) are suffering from mental health problems related to post-traumatic stress, as well blindness and disability, while around 10,000 are said to be wallowing in great poverty and misery.
This is contained in a petition that the spokesperson of the Namibia War Veterans Trust, Jabulani Ndeunyema, addressed to the Parliament Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs last Thursday.
Ndeunyema appealed to government that SWATF and former Koevoet members should also benefit from the country’s resources and should receive a pension, monetary compensation and education, training and skills development. The former soldiers also asked for a healthcare plan and special counselling for veterans of the war.
Ndeunyema argued that former SWATF and Koevoet members have suffered extreme dislocation from normal livelihood and face great challenges in adjusting to society. He said war veterans are equally vulnerable to psychological, neuro-psychiatric, trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder that may be a result of their participation in the border war.
“All war veterans in Namibia are in dire need of adequate healthcare and medical aid support, especially home-based care for the chronically ill veterans,” said the outspoken Ndeunyema.
He further said there was no comprehensive counselling support aimed at treating former members of SWATF and Koevoet, thus rendering it very difficult to fully assess the impact the war had on them.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs Sebastian Karupu said they would scrutinise the petition in relation to the provisions of the Constitution and international treaties signed.
“We will take it from there and make recommendations to the house according to international law and our law. This is the way to go. But you should bear with us, because it is a long process as they need legal advice and during the deliberations we may identify stakeholders we to need to approach,” Karupu clarified.
The vice chairperson of the committee, Lydia Nujoma, asked whether the former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers were not aware there are hospitals with orthopaedic services.
Ndeunyema mentioned the case of a blind former solider, who needed N$25,000 for eye surgery and said there is much stigma attached to these former soldiers, because when some people hear that they were former members of Koevoet and SWATF they tend to immediately shun them.