Friday 18 June 2021
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Dungeon inquest will create ‘monster’

Swapo Party stalwart Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana cautioned that an avalanche of problems might emanate if plans to conduct a probe into the infamous ‘Lubango dungeons’ saga proceed. Speaking during a wide-ranging interview with The Patriot this week, Iivula-Ithana equated a probe into the Lubango dungeons to “opening a Pandora’s box that you cannot close”. “If somebody is talking about opening up whatever they called it (dungeons), we are just creating a monster.  Whoever is harbouring such an idea should know from the mouth of this woman[Iivula-Ithana] that (he or she) is opening a Pandora’s box that he or she will never be able to close,” warned Iivula-Ithana. A “Pandora’s box” is a metaphor that refers to a source of endless complications or trouble arising from a single, simple miscalculation.
The ‘Lubango dungeons’ as they are infamously known refers to the disposal of Swapo dissidents in the dungeons during the liberation struggle on suspicion of being South African spies.  The dungeons are considered by certain quarters as the most painful chapter in the history of Namibia and a probe thereof is seen as imperative to get closure. According to historic records, Swapo established a secret intelligence service to spy on other Swapo members. This led to the arrest of perceived spies within Swapo at the time.  Swapo claimed that such people were sent by South Africa to spy and to give information regarding its military operations to the enemy. During this period, many people died in Lubango, some were reportedly killed while others died due to torture and pain inflicted related diseases. According to a local weekly, The Villager, about 4 000 Namibians are said to have been incarcerated in the dungeons of Lubango and many remain unaccounted for today as only less than 200 returned home in 1989 when the implementation of the UN Resolution 435 came into effect.    Iivula-Ithana said there was no war in the history of the world won cleanly, saying the struggle for Namibia’s independence is not an exception.
“Honestly, I know there is no war in this world that was fought clean, plain and no whatever[casualties]. There is no army that fights a war without wanting to know what the other side is planning.  In a war situation there are so many things that happen and I don’t want to get into that[Lubango dungeons],” charged Iivula-Ithana. According to Iivula-Ithana, a few years before the Namibia’s political independence, the Swapo leadership deliberated extensively around the Lubango dungeons and other atrocities that were committed during the war in Luanda, Angola – these deliberations gave birth to the National Policy of Reconciliation.   “We had a situation of occupation. The South African army occupied our country.  It made our people to commit atrocities against their brothers and sisters. And the majority of them are not going to run to South Africa (after independence). We are going to find them home[Namibia] and they are known. What are we going to do? [Are] we going to share families? [Are] we  going to share homes? .
What are we going to do? I remember I sat in that meeting in Luanda, us[Swapo] asking ourselves such questions. Are going to charge them? Are we going to put them through the judiciary?” Iivula-Ithana narrated the events of the said meeting.  She added: “We[Namibians] were made to fight a war that was not ours.  That war was not ours. It is a war by an occupation force, we resisted as Swapo and they[South African Apartheid regime] used our people to their war against us. Do we now go home and start penalising our own brothers and sisters? And we said ‘no’.
We are a small nation, if we start persecuting each other, we will start a proper civil war. That is why we came with the policy of national reconciliation.
It is Swapo who brought that policy here. And that policy is not just empty. We can unpack it. Unpack it so that you see what it covers. It protects ourselves.”
“Whom are we going to prosecute here in Namibia? You saw with the assassination of Anton Lubowski, where did it end…Nowhere because those who killed him came from abroad and South Africa refused to hand them over here (to Namibian authorities),” she added.

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