Hunting for the Enemy Inside Namibia [column]

There was a time when we sat [in the thick bushes] for almost an hour without talking to each other because of the of the prevailing security environment. It appeared each of us was talking to himself. For me, I was simply pondering how the day would go.

The sound of enemy trucks grew louder to the extent that one would think that they were just a few metres from our positions.

The Commander ordered us to take up firing positions just because of the trucks’ sounds. I have to admit that Okawe was a frightening experience to all of us owing to the fact that there were so many old and fresh trenches left by the colonial soldiers.

All fighters appeared determined to engage the enemy once provoked. We were all equipped with new AK machine guns, RPG-7 that had never fired a single bullet as well as hand grenades. Civilians who brought us food and water were not willing to wait until we finished eating. They chose to leave their traditional baskets there and collect them later.

The unwillingness of the villagers to stay long with us signalled yet another warning to us that Okawe village remained a risky area that required us to be extra vigilant all the time.

We stayed in the village until the sun set. At dusk, the Commander ordered two of us to go back into the villagers to bring food and water to bath and to invite them for the evening meeting. However, we delayed our departure until it was dark then we went from homestead to homestead inviting everyone to the meeting.

Although villagers were afraid to attend the meeting because of the then prevailing security situation, they were, however, keen to listen to our political education. The villagers came in big numbers, as some of them were seeing the fighters for the first time. Since the villagers had brought us food, we ate first before we started the meeting. The Commander then called some fighters to sing revolutionary songs while others were on duty a distance from the meeting place.

This time around, the Commander spoke first before Cde Sacky addressed the villagers, mainly on issues related to the history of SWAPO, how Namibia was colonised by the ‘Boers’, why the fighters had taken up the challenge to fight for the liberation of the country, and why every Namibian was required to render all necessary assistance to the SWAPO fighters. Cde Sacky spoke for almost two hours before I could wrap up by summarising what he had said and answering the villagers’ questions.

Many villagers were doubtful and concerned about how we could fight the South African soldiers who were property equipped with everything necessary to fight the war: aeroplanes, vehicles, enough soldiers, and weapons of war, while we were only walking on foot carrying heavy weapons and luggage.

Despite this observation, some villagers thanked us for taking up the heavy burden of liberating Namibia through the barrel of the gun.

The evening was encouraging, as villagers had shown that they were ready to assist the guerrilla fighters with information about enemy movements and their collaborators in the area as well as provide food and other necessary assistance to win the war. After the villagers left, we retreated into the bush as usual.

We spent the night north-west of the village, as we planned to proceed to Ondema, about 15 kilometres west of Okawe village, the following day.

We woke up at around 05h00 to prepare for our journey to Ondema. As we rolled up our tents, the enemy trucks had started generating unbearable noise at Okongo military base, signalling a turbulent day.

From Okawe, we proceeded to Ondema village as planned. We decided to take up positions between the main Ondema and Okandemwena (small Ondema) villages.

Ondema was popular with the enemy forces as it had plenty of water and had a big pan in the middle of the village, which was ideal for landing helicopters for resupplying the forces.

On arrival, we sent two fighters into the nearest homestead to obtain the latest information about the colonial troops.

While waiting for the comrades to return, one comrade was on top of the tree observing movements around the village.

When the two comrades came back, they informed us that the enemy forces had been seen the night before positioning themselves west of the village along the road from Okongo village.

Since Ondema covers a big area, we chose not to move any further until circumstances forced us to. We also decided not to organise food until we were certain that the enemy forces were not in the village. We did not visit other homesteads either, as we were not sure how many of the villagers collaborated with the enemy.

At about 15h00, we could see a helicopter hovering west of Ondema in Okalunga village, an indication that the helicopter was probably there to resupply the forces that passed through Ondema. According to my recollection of the events of that particular day, soon after we saw the helicopter hovering in Okalunga, the Commander moved around telling us that we would overnight in that village. Before dusk, we sent three comrades to visit homesteads to ask the masses to bring us food and water. The comrades were also requested to inform the villagers about a meeting to be held in the evening at the edge of a mahangu field.

As it grew darker, we shifted from the thick bushes into the mahangu field at an open space with sparse short bushes. The area was ideal to us and the villagers, as it allowed us to see at a distance while villagers would feel at ease unlike in the thick bushes during the night. A few minutes after we took up position there, villagers started to arrive with cooked chicken, meat, sour milk and the Oshiwambo traditional cabbage known as omboga. Food was more than enough as we were a group of more than 15 fighters only.

After eating, we started our meeting with the Commander introducing himself and a few of us who were there while the rest of the fighters were deployed a few metres from the meeting place to provide security to all of us. We did not sing that night, as we were neither sure about the security situation in that area nor trusted the villagers – some of whom were reported to be enemy informers.

We woke up early in the morning and before sunrise we were already moving towards Okandemwena village where we were to spend the day. Upon arrival, we decided not to visit any homestead preferring to observe first before we would visit the homesteads at midday. Apart from roaring vehicle sounds in the south-eastern direction of Okongo military base and the two helicopters that flew past south of Ondema village going westwards, the security situation appeared normal that day. At midday, we sent three fighters into four homesteads to organise villagers to bring us food and water.

Since villagers had met us two days before when we passed through the village. Their response was very positive, turning up in big numbers. Due to the non-hreatening security environment in that area, we decided to overnight in that village before we could proceed with our journey the following day to Onamatadiva village, west of Okandemwena. The day passed without incident.

Bethanie Village enemy PLAN

Source : New Era