Persistence presence of NDF soldiers within the Kapani community

Dear Editor,

Please allow me space in your prestigious newspaper to express my concerns with regards to the presence of NDF soldiers in the Kapani community. It was few days after Christmas when the first report of soldiers clearing a piece of land in the community, and a few days after that, a base was set up. All this was done without the knowledge of the community, upon inquiry the commander said they did so due to communication break down with the senior headman and promised that it will be temporary.

A meeting between NDF commanders and the community was called where NDF was shown places of interest at the frontline (borderline), after the exploration, commanders said the places were great but unfortunately they could not set up base due to wet terrain and promised to set up after the rainy season.  The community requested soldiers to pack and go back to their command post (Mpacha, Katima Mulilo) until such a time the rain stops. They promised to move back but requested for some time due to lack of transport, they claimed the trucks were in Windhoek.

It is now a month since the promise was made and we haven’t heard anything from the governor nor the NDF colonel.  The community is not happy with their presence within due to previous experiences with soldiers. We plead with the Ministry of Defence to send soldiers to the borderline as agreed or withdraw their troops. Deployed soldiers spend most of their time drinking at a local bottle store. In the past soldiers destroyed people’s relationships, marriages, and disturbed children’s education.  Their kids were left behind in poverty with no support.  Many are now on lifetime medication due to these operations.

Two weeks back two Botswana registered helicopters landed at Maunga village at the cattle post of one community member, soldiers were called and took time to respond and missed the opportunity to witness the harassment. Upon inquiry, soldiers and the chief of police claimed that they were aware of the helicopters and advised the community member to withdraw from his cattle post because it was in Botswana.

This was reciprocated by the BDF who claimed they bought and were given the land that includes Situngu Island.  This statement contradicts the current situation on the ground, as the boundary is situated four kilometres from the claimed land. We, the community demand to know as to who sold Situngu Island and the land where the cattle post is situated.

We will not give up on this fight until NDF soldiers are moved to the borderline or they withdraw. We do not want war, all we need is protection from the BDF – every day we live in fear. We believe the governor sold us out, because he is the one  who agreed to the temporary stay of the NDF soldiers at Kapani. If nothing is done urgently we will have no other choice but to demonstrate and take our grievances to the media for the nation and international community to see what we are going through.  Soldiers are not meant to be within the community, hear our cries.

Muishuñe Mutakolobelwa

Concerned community member