Saturday 15 May 2021
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Former Koevoet soldiers “endure 27 years of pain”

While hundreds of thousands of Namibians celebrated Independence Day on Tuesday, former members of Koevoet members feel “the 27th commemoration of Namibia’s political independence marks yet another year of pain, marginalism and oppression that they have been subjected to under the Swapo-led administration.”
The Koevoet, translated to crowbar, abbreviated Operation K or SWAPOL-COIN) was a major paramilitary police organisation under South African-administered South West Africa(Namibia).
In an interview with The Patriot this week to get the reflections of former Koevoet members over Namibia’s development since 1990, SWATF and Koevoet Organization Chairman Willem Beukes said he was glad that Namibia got its independence from colonial governments but believes that all citizens must benefit “equally” from the country’s resources.
“We are excluded from the country’s resources because it is only some people that are enjoying the fruits of our independence, as former SWATF and Koevoet members, we are not enjoying it.
“For 27 years, we are still in pain, we are being pushed away, we are really paining and only those that think they fought for the independence of the country are enjoying the fruits,” lamented Beukes.
In the same way, Beukes feels that former SWATF and Koevoet members have been marginalised and side-lined in terms of benefiting from Namibia’s “abundant” natural resources.
“We are still paining, we are excluded from everything, these include mining, fishing, those Harambees (Harambee Prosperity Plan); those projects that by government, we are not there.
“The only thing that we enjoy is the political independence of Namibia and not the benefits that come with it, as for the others we are left out,” he added.
Beukes said oppression and discrimination against ex-SWATF and Koevoet soldiers is very common in post-independent Namibia and accused government of advancing tribalism in the country.
“If you look you at the system, tribalism started with the Germans, from there it came to the Boers who came to colonise us and now again it is Swapo.
“They (Swapo-led government) took over at independence and they practice the same thing (tribalism) just like the oppressors,” charged Beukes.
Moreover, Beukes pointed that during the South African colonial period, Namibians were “better off” in many respects compared to the present situation.
“The South African government made sure that everyone had a roof over their heads, breads on their tables. Even the domestic workers, they were provided with a two-bedroom house.
“But nowadays when the Swapo-led government took over, what we see today is just shacks (informal settlements) all over and that is not acceptable, sanitation and health are of serious concern,” charged Beukes.
Beukes further lamented the absence of clean accessible water at informal settlements in Windhoek and attributed high crime rate to unavailability of basic services at these locations.
According to Beukes, Namibia’s independence will only have meaning when all citizens, “irrespective” of their past and political affiliation start benefiting from the country’s resources “equally”.
Sharing similar sentiments with Beukes was Namibia War Veterans’ Trust chairperson Jabulani Ndeunyema who also represents former SWATF and Koevoet members said they have not celebrated independence in “26 years”.
On one hand, the situation for former Koevoet members looks promising due to the open-door policy which has characterised Hage Geingob’s Presidency according to Ndeunyema.
“For the last 26 years, we could not celebrate independence, but for now, this last one (2017), despite still trying to get on with life; our feelings were not hurt and the situation is getting better.
“Our minds were not hurt, we had a meeting with the President (Hage Geingob) so the picture is getting clear, we are have hope and feel part of Hage’s house,” said Ndeunyema.
On the other hand, Ndeunyema said his members are still being “discriminated” against particularly those who joined the Namibia Defence Force at independence.
“Despite Namibia being free, former soldiers do not feel the free because of the way we have been treated, there has always been a war of words towards the soldiers since 1990. Even those in the military, there is discrimination” concluded Ndeunyema.

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