Calm returns to tribally fragile Ileni

Keetmanshoop-After tribal confrontations triggered by an alleged case of theft that erupted between Nama and Aawambo residents of Keetmanshoop, life has now gone back to normal at Ileni settlement.

The informal settlement saw unpleasant scenes on Sunday, as residents armed with machetes, knives, knobkerries, spears and other weapons chased each other around the shacks, stoned each other and gunshots also rang out injuring several people.

But after police intervened and restored law and order things have normalised, though many residents say they no longer feel safe.

Violent incidents have not recurred since Sunday, but many residents feel too unsafe to freely roam around as they used to, especially at night.

Elrico De Wee told New Era that although the situation had calmed down, many people lived in fear.

He said the threats made during the confrontations had instilled fear in many, and led others to watch every step they take.

"Before Sunday everything was fine, we stayed well together, our children could even go and play anywhere, but it's not the case now, we are afraid," he said.

Anna Klassen (50) who sustained an injury to the mouth during Sunday's confrontations echoed De-Wee's sentiments.

She said the situation had normalised, but fear was still rife among residents, as they felt unsafe when moving around.

She noted that, many of the residents still feared that what happened on Sunday might happen again if they moved closer to the houses that belonged to residents of another tribe, and added that for now all the tribes seemed to be 'on their own and on their side.'

"I don't feel safe to go to the other side, I'm still in fear that I might be attacked, it will take a while before the fear is gone," she said.

She furthermore, said she had not witnessed anything like the confrontations of Sunday during the six years she had stayed there.

Klassen condemned the violent clashes and said they should stop, noting that all people were Namibians irrespective of their tribe and should learn to live together.

Another resident, Maria Booysen who was nursing her injuries at home after she was assaulted concurred with the other residents.

Even though the situation had gone back to normal, many still lived in fear and were struggling to get on with their lives.

She said all residents had over the years lived peacefully together, and indicated that although there were small incidents, this was the only time the tension rose so high that people fought along tribal lines.

Booysen further said the area was not safe especially for the elderly and children, because young men usually drank and terrorised the neighbourhood.

"This place is very dangerous for us elderly and the children. when young people drink and fight they don't care who they beat up, and we end up as victims," she said.

She added that elders had tried to talk to the young people about stopping their violent behaviour, but they were met with negativity and insults.

She added that the lack of electricity made the safety issue worse, as people lived in darkness, and she pleaded with the Keetmanshoop municipality to do something about it.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia