Profiles of Kaoko, Kazetjindire has moved

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On Sunday at 6.27am, Dolly Ruiter called urgently from Opuwo. I needed to go to Kazetjindire’s house because something had just happened and there were no grown-ups in the house. Her phone dropped. I jumped into my clothes. As I entered my car a thought rushed into my head: I phoned a few people to obtain a rough idea of what had transpired. I phoned Nangolo Mbumba, SWAPO Secretary General. He was already on his feet. I phoned Veendapi McLeod, Governor of Khomas Region, she was already at the house. I went back to Mbumba and helped him with directions to the house. I vainly phoned Honorable Katuutire Kaura, Personal Advisor to the Governor of Kunene. His phone was off. I phoned his daughter, Maandero and she confirmed that he was travelling to Windhoek.

When I arrived at the house Veendapi was pulling together emotions on the floor of the living room. The situation did not afford space for questions and I took my cues from the mourners in their traditional communications. Mbumba arrived half an hour later. Within the next hour President Pohamba arrived, he stayed for about an hour and shortly after his departure, Vice President Nickey Iyambo arrived.

At this stage things were settling down and some order had entered the environment. Later on President Geingob arrived and after settling down, he gave a reassuring address to the family and those who had gathered to expand the circle of mourners. In the end Kazetjindire was laid to rest at Otjozongondjoza in Kaoko next to her father.

Kaoko remained isolated for the longest time. Then, the area was penetrated by freedom fighters, prominent among them Raimo Movirongo. Villagers talked of Raimo as if a sub-human. They described him as their prince who had left Kaoko holding books and returned leading a battalion of long-bearded SWAPO fighters. During this time I met Manasse Hihangwapo, a schoolteacher, Kenashilonga Muharukua a schoolteacher and political activist. Tumbee Tjirora, whom we recruited as field worker for CCN intervention programs, also became a political activist. These were highly dependable.

Kazetjindire was married to Kenashilonga Muharukua. Kenashilonga helped with the distribution of drought aid. He always made a case for his wife and we took some food to the family at Okatjetje.

Kazetjindire was a traditional wife and said very little to strangers, but along the way she opened up and became more involved in community struggles. Kenashilonga was under the gun from Koevoet for most of the time. He would be either locked up or in hiding until some dust had settled.

Once a regular contact called urgently and I had to travel. Kazetjindire was in Outjo – Kenashilonga had been picked up by police from Opuwo and she feared the worst. When I arrived there she insisted that we travel to Kaoko the same night because the children in the village were exposed to danger.

We used the alternative route via the Bergpas and through Palmwag. The road took us through Okuvare and WarmQuelle. This route enabled us to enter Opuwo from the west and we went to Okatjetje before we got to Opuwo. I dropped Kazetjindire and a companion a distance from the village in order to minimize visibility. Police were alerted and as I entered Opuwo, Adjudant Botha from the army confronted me. After three hours of interrogation I was released.
By then Kazetjindire was confused and had sent word to Windhoek that I had disappeared.

My uncle Jakuaterua Kandetu who was in the South African Army at Opuwo, met me at the police station and told me that my mother had called urgently from Omongua. Through Jakuaterua we discovered that Kenashilonga was at some holding cells near Outjo. Kazetjindire and I travelled to Outjo and went directly to the police. She vainly insisted to see her husband. CCN briefed the law firm Lorentz and Bone and we had to wait.

I decided to stay for at least a day with Kazetjindire in Outjo. In the afternoon I visited my old school friend who at the time was school principal in Outjo. We went to the training of his soccer team Golden Bees. There he introduced me to one of his players, a police officer in Outjo. This officer shared confidentially that when Kazetjindire and I were at the police station he was also in the area. At the time Kenashilonga was in the station for interrogation and had been badly beaten. The officer would be on night duty and agreed to sneak Kenashilonga out for a meeting.

He was reluctant for Kazetjindire to be present and it was so difficult for me. I so badly wanted to take her along, but knowing her personality and appreciating the fact that this was a touch and go arrangement, I decided not to see her in the afternoon.

Kenashilonga was covered with a blanket – he was thin and his face was badly swollen. I broke down and cried. Kenashilonga insisted that I drive to Opuwo. Police were to take him there for in loco inspection the following day and if the weapons at the village were discovered he would not evade Robben Island. I went to Kazetjindire and we left immediately. In the car I briefed her and gave her the note from her husband, and as she finished reading, she broke down. She cried for most of the journey.

Kenashilonga Muharukua died in a tragic car accident. When they unveiled his gravestone, Kazetjindire insisted that I bring riding horses to the unveiling.

Kazetjindire is dead but the legacies of the children of the storm from Kaoko will continue to haunt our freedom until it is complete, when the German Regime will one day come to the table for real.

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