Ex-colonial government soldiers face poverty: Ndeunyema

ONDANGWA: The chairperson of the Namibia War Veterans’ Trust (Namvet), Jabulani Ndeunyema says ex-soldiers of the colonial government in Namibia are facing starvation due to a loss of income when they were demobilised in 1989.

Ndeunyema said this when he visited some of the ex-colonial soldiers at Ondangwa in the Oshana Region on Saturday.

These ex-soldiers served the colonial government under military units such as the South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet.

According to Ndeunyema, starving ex-members of SWATF and Koevoet are mostly living in the informal settlements around the country where they survive on hand-outs and the mercy of good Samaritans.

“This situation is as a result of them (ex-colonial soldiers) being ignored by the current government for the past 24 years of this country’s independence,” Ndeunyema charged.

He added that although they expected the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs to consider all soldiers who fought on both sides during the liberation struggle, the ministry is discriminating against ex-members of SWATF and Koevoet.

“I am now tired of eating dustbin food. I will not hesitate if a job is offered to me one day,” said Efraim Ausiku during Ndeunyema’s visit to his home at the Uupopo informal settlement on Saturday.

Ausiku explained that he gets up early every morning to go out and collect food from dustbins around Ondangwa before the dustbins are removed by waste removal workers.

The 47-year-old Ausiku is from Mbome village in the Kavango West Region, but served as a soldier of the ex-SWATF at Ondangwa from 1980 until his demobilisation in 1989.

“I am without income since 1989, because I could not get employment in this country after independence,” Ausiku stated, adding that his partner and seven children abandoned him because of the difficult circumstances.

Ausiku sleeps on the floor of a zinc structure offered to him by a friend for free. It does not have a bathroom or water supply.

Jonas Kristian, 49, and the 64-year-old Mateus Iipinge are the other two ex-SWATF members visited by Ndeunyema at Ondangwa on Saturday.

The duo also claimed that their lives have been difficult since after the war. Kristian and Iipinge were also demobilised in 1989, but they are fortunate to be receiving government’s social grant of N.dollars 600 per month.

Iipinge receives an old age pension, while Kristian receives a disability grant.

Kristian using crutches after being paralysed when he was shot in a battle between the ex-SWATF soldiers and Swapo’s defunct military wing, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), on 01 April 1989 in the Okalongo area of the Omusati Region.