A trip in memory of Cassinga

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Albertina Nakale

WINDHOEK – A group of Cassinga and Vietnam refugee camp survivors that travelled to Angola from May 8-15 returned home on Tuesday after a weeklong visit to places where they had survived the atrocities committed by South African apartheid troops 40 years ago.

Minister of Safety and Security Charles Namoloh led a team of Cassinga and Vietnam survivors to hold the 40th Cassinga Day commemoration at the then two Swapo refugee camps in Angola.

Cassinga in Huila Province and Vietnam in Cunene Province were the two Swapo refugee camps in Angola that housed mostly unarmed civilians escaping the ordeal of South Africa’s apartheid regime in Namibia.

The Cassinga massacre on May 4, 1978, was the killing of between 600 to 1,000 Namibians of whom the majority were defenceless women and children and is presumed one of the worst war crimes in the world.
Survivors feel by visiting the sites was the way they could honour and pay tribute to their countrymen and women
who were killed in cold-blood.

The visit was the second memorial pilgrimage following a debut trip in 2016. In full Swapo attire, the survivors gathered with the Angolan communities who also came in numbers wearing the MPLA colours, as an indication of commonality existing between the two political parties and the countries in particular.
At the event survivors emotionally narrated what transpired on that day and in its aftermath, while various speakers offered support to the noble idea of visiting the sites.

Namoloh, who was the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN)’s chief of staff during the liberation war, views the Cassinga massacre as a catastrophic day in the history of Namibia, and the nation needs to take cognizance of the fact that Namibia’s independence came through extreme sacrifices.

“A good deal of credit goes to Angola and its fraternal people for their unfailing support during our struggle for national independence,” said Namoloh. He said the two nations shared a common goal in the cause of Namibia’s independence and the total elimination of apartheid, courtesy of the gallant people of Angola’s steadfastness and generosity extended to Namibians.

Namoloh urged the nation to visit the two historic sites to reflect on and understand the past struggles.
“As a nation we should have our fallen heroes and heroines at heart and not use infrastructural conditions as an excuse not to visit these historic sites,” said Namoloh.

Equally, Salviano de Jesus Sequeira, the Minister of National Defence of Angola, paid tribute to the victims of the Cassinga massacre. He regards the brutal attack as barbaric and requiring the condemnation it deserves.
He said the atrocities committed by the apartheid regime in Cassinga and Vietnam against defenceless refugees would always be remembered and condemned.

Sequeira noted Angola’s fraternal support to Namibia during the liberation struggle is the highest expression of solidarity the Angolans showed to Africa and the world.

“The time in which we live demands new duties and concrete achievements based on the common past and memory. The joint efforts and mutual interests, that we pursue will be consolidated,” he stressed.

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