Hunger-stricken villagers steal drought aid

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

OSHIKOTO Police averted arresting two desperate men from Okankuzi village for stealing drought relief food at Oshigambo last week after they learnt that they were simply hunger-stricken.

Confidente has learnt that a few food items, including tins of fish, cooking oil and a single bag of maize mail were stolen last Friday while a truck that brought drought relief food to the centre was being offloaded.

It is alleged that the two men, suspected to be aged between 34 and 40 years, showed up, grabbed some food and started running away with it.

Oniipa constituency councillor Jeremiah Ngwena confirmed the incident, saying the men were hunger-stricken and clearly in need of food.

“You know, people are hungry because they did not plant last year. We sent a truck full of food to Oshigambo on Friday to go and drop food there. While they were offloading it, two men came and took the food and ran away with it.

“One took a bag of maize meal and three tins of fish while the other one took a whole box of cooking oil. When we went to his house with the police, we found out that he was hungry. He lives in his house alone. He lives in poverty. I think he is 40 years old,” he said.

The second man, whom he said is between 34 and 35 years old, brought back the box of cooking oil on Monday after the councilor threatened on Kati FM morning call-in programme, Lunganda, that if he did not bring it, the councillor would have him arrested.

“He brought it this morning (Monday) after I announced on the radio that he should bring it back otherwise he will be dealt with by the law. I spoke to them and they promised that they will not repeat it again,” he said.

The councillor said the men are from the same poverty-stricken village. He also blamed the headman of that village for not submitting the names of people affected by drought in his village when the headmen were asked to do so last year.

He added that it was the headmen of Okankuzi and Onanganga who did not submit the names of their residents on time, therefore these residents did not make it onto the list of people in need of drought relief.

“Everyone needs food, especially now that we did not receive rain last year. They have nothing to eat. We requested headmen to submit the names but this was not done on time. The people of those two villages were not on the list of beneficiaries,” he noted.

The councillor estimated that about 34,000 residents in Oniipa constituency are in need of food aid. The headman of Okankuzi could not be reached for comment at the time of submitting this report.