Eveline de Klerk
SWAKOPMUND – Swakopmund community activist, Laidlaw Peringanda says he is being pressurised by high-ranking government officials to withdraw the case he lodged with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2016, for the removal of the German soldier monument in Swakopmund, the Marine Denkmal.
Peringanda says the monument represents the dark and twisted atrocities their forefathers were subjected to during the German colonial regime.
ICC shortly after the submission of the evidence and relevant paperwork, registered a case, ICC-OTP-CR352/16 requested Peringanda to gather information to further substantiate the case.
The ICC is a permanent international court established to investigate, prosecute and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
Peringanda says he is overwhelmed by calls from government officials who want him to drop the case.
“Some even suggest that I will be paid handsomely if I withdraw the case. I even recorded some of the calls as I fear that there will be attempts on my life,” he said.
He also said he was contacted in January by Venomuinjo Kauaria the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Life Long Learning, Arts and Culture via email to discuss the removal of the monument. Kauaria in the mail seen by New Era suggested her reaching out to Peringanda was a way of avoiding him taking the case to ICC.
“Sorry that you had to take ICC road already. My email to you was a way of avoiding that. Therefore, I do not know what our options are. Can we still discuss the issue? What can we do to resolve it,” she said.
Contacted for comment, Kauaria told New Era she only contacted Peringanda, after he contacted her for the removal of the monument.
He gave his reasons as a free citizen in a democratic country. It is during that conversation that he told me that the case is already lodged. I had no idea there was a case. I only asked whether he have exhausted all avenues and why lodge a case against government. I also asked him why he could not withdraw the case and rather talk to government to resolve the issue instead of taking government to court, Kauaria said.
She further explained Peringanda told her he exhausted all avenues since and that the process is further gone.
As far as the bribery claims, Kauria said government does not offer bribes. We all know that. He must perhaps tell you who offered him the money,” she said.
Kauaria said there are too many scholarly arguments with regard to the monument; hence, a national debate should be called to discuss it.
Peringanda said he does not consider dropping the case as he and 300 other Namibians who signed the petition want the monument gone.
A flabbergasted Peringanda said he is surprised government wants to get involved into the saga. “I mean I have been writing since 2015 to government and the German Embassy for the removal of the monument, but all our pleas fell on deaf ears. They only woke up now, that the ICC wants more evidence and has a keen interest in the matter, that they want me to withdraw the case,” he said.
We removed the Reiterdenkmal in 2013. Hence, I fail to understand why we could not also remove the Marine Denkmal.