Six injured in Keetmans tribal clashes

A young woman was hit by a bullet and a young man badly assaulted as all hell broke loose at Ileni informal settlement in Keetmanshoop on Sunday afternoon when confrontations between Nama and Aawambo erupted into ugly running battles.

Residents armed with machetes, knives, knobkerries, spears and other weapons chased each other around shacks and threw stones at each other, while gunshots were also fired, injuring one person.

Although details of how the confrontations began - which started around 15h00 on an otherwise peaceful Sunday - are still sketchy, New Era understands the spark was the assault of a young man by a group of men who accused him of stealing their belongings.

This allegedly led to the victim's tribesmen attacking the attackers in retaliation and in the blink of an eye the confrontation had turned into one of tribe versus tribe.

Although the police were called to the scene to restore law and order the two tribal groups continued to throw stones at each other, with the police stuck in the middle.

The police could simply not stop residents from pelting each other with stones.

And the confrontations got more heated from time to time, forcing the police and the special reserved force to fire warning shots into the air and use teargas, but the stubborn and angry residents would not relent.

After hours of struggling the police finally got the situation under control at about 20h00, and residents gathered at opposite ends of the battle area so that they could be addressed, although confrontations continued vocally as the two groups hurled insults at one another, with each tribe accusing the other of being troublesome.

Keetmanshoop local councillor Erenst Jash and //Karas regional coordinator Matheus Mumbala were given the task of speaking to the divided residents. They pleaded with the two groups to stop fighting and return to their respective homes.

"Let's not take the law into our own hands, let's not fight each other as we are all Namibians," Mumbala urged.

At least six people are believed to have been treated for injuries as a result of the confrontations, and while most were said to be slightly injured, a young woman, Loide Kalume, 24, was admitted to Keetmanshoop hospital after a bullet hit her left hand.

She narrated how she was caught in the middle of the confrontations, saying she saw people running towards her, which prompted her to run into her shack for cover - but just when she thought she was safe she realised she had been shot in her left hand.

A unknown person is believed to have fired shots before the police arrived and one bullet hit her shack, leaving her wounded. With the bullet still stuck in her hand she spoke to New Era.

The young man accused of theft, Clive Piete, 20, pleaded innocence, saying he did not know why he was attacked.

Speaking from his hospital bed, he said he was on his way to Naute Dam, where he stays with his brother, when suddenly seven men confronted him and started beating him up, accusing him of stealing their belongings.

He said he sustained a head injury as a result of the attack, besides a bruised body, adding that the men could have killed him were it not for two elderly women who came to his rescue.

"Seven guys stopped me and started beating me, they almost killed me, and I'm alive because of the two elderly women who intervened," he said.

When New Era visited the hospital, the doctors were getting ready to remove the bullet from Kalume's hand, while Piete had been discharged and he is said to have opened a police case against his attackers.

Meanwhile, on Monday the police were once again called by residents, who claimed one of the residents tried to destroy their shack in the morning, but calm has since been restored.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia