DTA demands veteran status for colonial soldiers

03 Mar 2016 20:00pm
ONDJODJO, 03 MAR (NAMPA) - The Namibian Government practices administrative injustice by refusing to recognise the South West Africa Territory Forces (SWATF) and Koevoet ex-combatants as war veterans, said the Secretary of the DTA of Namibia in Oshana Region.
Speaking to Nampa at his home village of Ondjodjo earlier this week, Italwa Daniel joined a section of the Namibian society that demands war veteran status to be granted to the former fighters of the SWATF and Koevoet.
Daniel noted that SWATF and Koevoet ex-fighters are not freedom fighters, but they are indeed war veterans despite the fact that they stood on the wrong side during the struggle for the liberation of the country.
“Their participation in the liberation war, while fighting together with colonial military forces, does not take away their right to benefit from the government of the country of their birth, and does not mean that they should be discriminated against.”
Government has granted war veteran status to fighters of the ruling Swapo Party’s military wing - the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) – and they now receive Government grants.
War veterans receive about N.dollars 2 000 as a monthly allowance and a N.dollars 50 000 lump sum, while they can also apply for a N.dollars 200 000 grant to finance income-generating projects.
Besides the ex-PLAN fighters, Government also gives similar benefits to those viewed to have significantly contributed to the liberation struggle without having joined the struggle in exile.
Some of these individuals, Daniel alleged, also collaborated with the then colonial regime by, for instance, serving in the former Administration for Owambos as top officials.
He claimed that he knows of some individuals who served as senior officials in the colonial government or agencies, and now receive war veteran benefits from the government.
“Individuals, who even occupied senior positions in the colonial government and earned fat cheques then, receive benefits from the Swapo-led government as war veterans too. Why can SWATF and Koevoet fighters also not be granted such status?”
Koevoet (Crowbar) was a paramilitary wing formed under the then South-West African Police (SWAPOL) as the most effective combat force deployed against the PLAN fighters during the liberation war.
The majority of its fighters/soldiers were mostly black Owambo operators and a few white soldiers. The Koevoet personnel have been held responsible for committing human rights violations against the civilians in northern Namibia.
It was formed in 1979 under the leadership of Brigadier Hans 'Sterk' Dreyer, a veteran of the then Rhodesian Special Air Service.
Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, whilst speaking on the occasion of the commemoration of Heroes’ Day at Omugulugwombashe in the Omusati Region before his retirement last year, referred to the SWATF and Koevoet ex-combatants as “killers who deserve not to be granted war veterans' status”.