It Was In My Blood Not To Waver: Siteketa

25 Aug 2018 11:30am
By Petrus Muronga

NKURENKURU, 25 AUG (NAMPA) – Severinus Siteketa looks sad as he talks about the day his wife, Christine Mudi Hausiku, was abducted by the South West Africa Territorial Force to be interrogated about his assistance to People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighters.
“I could not allow the enemy to take my wife because of me. If it was me they wanted, they should have taken me,” he says.
Now sitting at his house at Nankundu without any worries that this family’s lives might be in danger, Siteketa says Koevoet soldiers came around 06h00 that day while his wife was busy preparing breakfast for the family.
This was after they provided dinner to PLAN combatants the previous night.
When Hausiku noticed their presence, she came into their sleeping room, alerted him and asked him to keep quiet.
She told the Koevoet he was not there and they took her.
“After taking my wife for interrogation, I told myself enough is enough. If they are looking for me let them come get me!”
When he saw the car return a few hours later, he did not hide and was arrested.
“They blindfolded me and threw me into a van.”
That was 1983 and it was the first of several arrests Siteketa suffered for helping PLAN fighters at Ncancana in the Namungundo area of the Kavango Region during Namibia’s dark days of fighting for independence from South Africa.
Siteketa was born at Tondoro village some 75 years ago.
The now retired teacher, radio broadcaster and businessman says the fight for independence was long and bitter.
He was tortured at every arrest, denied food and water and locked up for long periods of time in inhumane conditions.
“It was in my blood not to waver. I kept assisting my comrades in the fight for Namibia’s independence.”
Siteketa says he was one of the first people to receive an Ovambo People’s Organisation membership card from then leader Sam Nujoma when they were students at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic High School at Döbra north of Windhoek – the same school he would later send his own children to.
Siteketa says he felt obliged to help PLAN fighters.
When he resigned as broadcaster in August 1979 due to mounting pressure because he would play music that was being requested from exile, Siteketa became a part-time farmer and opened small shops at Nankudu, Mukekete, Kasivi and Ncancana.
At the time, no one was safe in Kavango as landmines were placed almost everywhere in the quest by South Africa to minimise Swapo’s influence within the region.
Siteketa’s car activated a landmine on a bushy road at Kamupupu close to his farm in Ncancana and three people died, including a three-month-old baby.
Siteketa was not in the vehicle.
He was again arrested in 1984 at his shop in Mukekete and was taken to Mururani control border post along the Trans-Caprivi Highway, where Special Forces interrogate people.
At Mururani he was kept in solitary confinement, tortured with electric shocks and often denied food, an experience he says nearly killed him.
He was released but arrested again the following year and taken to Osire, some 600 kilometres (km) south of Kavango.
He was kept there for about four months before the security forces took him to Bethanie in southern Namibia.
At Bethanie he was kept in cells with 12 to 15 other freedom fighters from across Namibia, including the late composer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, Jaakko Kangayi.
“Shortly before Christmas, I was released from prison and went back home and my children could not recognise me due to the harsh conditions I was subjected to,” said the father of 16.
Siteketa’s freedom did not last long as he was arrested again by Koevoet merely two weeks later.
This time he was taken to the notorious torture camp near the Elizabeth Nepemba correctional facility. The camp was hidden in thick forest about 30km south of Rundu.
Siteketa said the camp was disguised as a police training camp and sometimes referred to as “Malan’s Camp”, but in reality it was used as a detention camp by Koevoet and equipped with torture facilities.
“Here I was also kept in extreme harsh conditions in a small cell which was made of corrugated iron sheets in the heat of the day and the cold of night.”
Food and water were given to them in a can and when it was given, they were ordered to look away or the Koevoet soldiers would simply push their food in under the door.
“Often I was woken up with a splash of cold water in the morning and forced to give information regarding Swapo.”
Siteketa was released six months later and returned home in bad health, looking much older and weighting a mere 32 kilogrammes.
He was admitted to the Roman Catholic hospital in Windhoek where he was treated for more than two months and regained his memory and weight.
The Council of Churches in Namibia paid his medical expenses.
As part of his contribution towards the liberation struggle, Siteketa was among the recipients of a heroes’ medal from Nujoma at the inauguration of Heroes’ Acre in Windhoek on 26 August 2002.