Cassinga Survivors Want Medals

SURVIORS of the Cassinga massacre want government to honour them each with medals for contributing to the independence of the country.

Cassinga survivor Hileni Amakali-Mudhika made the call at a belated commemoration of the 37th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre on Saturday in Windhoek.

The Khomas regional office said it decided to bring the national commemorations to the Samora Machel constituency in Katutura this year.

Amakali-Mudhika, who was speaking on behalf of her fellow veterans, also requested government to organise a commemoration to be held in Angola specifically for survivors and relatives to remember their slain loved ones.

“As Cassinga survivors, we are busy organising ourselves to document the events of that fateful day. Each one of us is to write about the ordeal he or she had gone through so that it could be documented in one book,” she said.

Amakali-Mudhika, who shared her painful experience with those in attendance, said she vividly remembers how, as a child in the Cassinga refugee camp, she was forced to run for her life, running past injured countrymen.

“We later learned that the cold-blooded attack was staged by apartheid South African forces who had crossed over to Angola from our country which they were occupying illegally at the time,” she recalled.

Amakali-Mudhika and 22 other survivors lit candles in remembrance of the tragedy in an emotional tribute.

They were joined by minister of youth Jerry Ekandjo and Khomas regional governor Laura McCleod-Katjirua, as well as the ambassadors of Cuba, Zambia, Zimbabwe, China, Venezuela, Congo and Kenya, who all played a role in rendering assistance to Namibians during the struggle.

In his keynote address, Ekandjo said that 4 May 1978 was the darkest day in the history of Namibia’s liberation struggle.

“It was on this day that hundreds of unarmed Namibian refugees were massacred in cold blood by racist South African troops at Cassinga. The majority of them were women and children,” he said.

Ekandjo said that Namibia will forever remain indebted to those countries who rendered assistance to the country during the liberation struggle.

“The Cassinga experience should serve as a lesson for our young generation to study, learn and work hard and ensure the economic freedom of this country,” he said.

He said that although the day carries with it painful memories, it should not be a day of mourning, but a day of dedication to develop the country further.

Out of 3 068 inhabitants at the Angolan refugee camp, 300 children, 294 women and 165 men were killed in the Cassinga massacre by armed South African troops, while over 200 went missing.

The Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs last week revealed that since the inception of the monthly payment that forms part of the support package to veterans, more than 13 000 veterans have benefited from this activity and another 3 000 veterans will be added for the current financial year.

The ministry said an amount of N$263 million is requested for this activity to pay monthly financial assistance to eligible veterans and their dependents.

Source : The Namibian