Ministry denies Shark Island being built on gravesite

• By Tracy Tafirenyika

THE Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has denied and rejects information that Shark Island Camping Site is built on top of a graveyard and that physical alterations were made on the site.

This comes after uproar on social media where some people questioned how a former concentration camp could be used as vacation accommodation. The campsite reopened recently, with some Namibians rubbed the wrong way by an announcement that the facility was taking bookings again.

In a statement this week, the ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said that Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) did not alter the original design of the infrastructure.

“NWR did not build anything new on Shark Island or on top of the graveyard as is being alleged. However, Shark Island being a tourism attraction, NWR undertook renovations to the guest facilities such as the ablution blocks (toilets, tiling, and plumbing) and the lighthouse to improve the visitors’ experience. These improvements were done in consultation with the National Heritage Council of Namibia.

“Given its historical and tourism importance, there is a need to preserve and maintain this place on a continuous basis. We should allow visitors to visit Shark Island, and if so there must be guest facilities and the place must create some local employment and provide some corresponding activities to generate some revenues for its upkeep. There is nothing unusual about having some guest facilities at a historic site, it is a practice done all around the world over,” the ministerial statement by Muyunda reads.

The resort comprises of the Lighthouse that is used for guest accommodation and an open area used as a camping site and all of these areas are situated away from the gravesite.

Shark Island is historically known as a gravesite where many were buried during the genocide of the Nama and Herero people between 1904 and 1908 by the German colonial government.