….Heritage Council explains its involvement
Two tomb-like structures-that have been reserved for Presidents-have been constructed at the Heroes Acre, The Patriot can reveal.
Although there is not much details around the structures, mourners who attended the funeral services of the late icons Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab in 2017 and 2018 respectively, might have seen different-coloured structures at the national shrine, starkly different from the traditional black, grey and white colours of the shrine. At least three highly placed officials from the Ministry of Works and Transport confirmed that the structures are reserved for the Presidents.
The Patriot also understands that a recommendation was made last year for Ya Toivo to be buried in one of the structures but it was rejected.
“We are aware of the structures and their intended purpose, but that is as far as it goes. Everything else is high level.
All I know is that those rooms are fully air-conditioned. We understand each structures can accommodate two bodies,” said a ministerial source who is privy to the matter. There are also talks, according to sources, that the bodies of the Presidents to be interred in the structures will be embalmed.
Embalming is the art and science of preserving human remains by treating them (in its modern form with chemicals) to forestall decomposition. The intention is to keep them suitable for public display at a funeral, for religious reasons. It helps to preserve the body for many years.
Chairperson of the National Heritage Council of Namibia Salomon April confirmed the ‘additional structures’ at the national monument saying the involvement of the Council “was only with the construction of the structures, a tall order that was given a while back.”
“We just carried out an order to construct the two structures, but as to who will be laid to rest in those structures is the President’s prerogative. That is not our duty at all,” he said.
Salomon also refused to share the cost of the structures and how the structures will be maintained.
“Why do you want to know the cost? There are channels through which we account to the public and it is not through the media. And even if they are for Presidents, what is wrong with that?” April asked. Former Minister of Presidential Affairs Frans Kapofi who is said to have taken part in the process that led to the construction of the structures said “I do not know anything about that” when approached for comment.
He went on saying: “Even if it[structures] was meant for that purpose[reserved for Presidents], is that newsworthy?
At Heroes Acre there are graves built already, the only difference is they are not reserved for specific people, as long as you are declared a hero you can be buried there. The ones you are talking about have a specific purpose.”
“Maybe my name is being mentioned because of the office I occupied at the time[when it was constructed], people are linking my name because of my long stay in the office, they think I am an institutional memory for everything,” Kapofi said.