Submitted by NamibianSun101 on Fri, 2013-07-19 08:19
Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba said former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers should pay the price for siding with the former colonial masters and killing their own people.
“They fought against their own people for a foreign army under the command of the enemy,” said Mbumba in reaction to an announcement by the group under the banner of the Communist Party that they plan to sue the government.
The group, led by Willem Beukes, said that 21 000 former SWATF and 6 400 Koevoet soldiers and their families will join the Communist Party (CP), led by Attie Beukes, in a bid to have the party elected into parliament next year.
The South West African Territory Force (SWATF) consisted of Namibian conscripts, volunteers and career soldiers who fought alongside the (SADF) against Swapo.
Koevoet, also known as “Operation K” was the South West African Police Counter-Insurgency Unit and fought fiercely against Swapo combatants during apartheid.
Attie Beukes maintained that those Namibians who formed part of these two forces did not join voluntarily but were conscripted or jailed under South African law if they refused to join.
“They were under colonial rule and did not voluntarily take up arms against Swapo,” Beukes added.
But Mbumba responded: “I do not care about that excuse. Other people were also forced but instead of fighting against their own people they fled the country. Why didn’t they do the same?”
Beukes told a gathering of close to 15 former SWATF and Koevoet members yesterday that with the help of the CP they will institute criminal and civil claims against the “Swapo-led government” for pension money which was allegedly paid over by the former South African government to Swapo at independence.
“That money was N$36 million at that time and now we hear it has accumulated to over N$1,4 billion. This money plus the pension surplus must be paid back to the former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers,” said Beukes.
Mbumba asked where this money, which he called an “exaggerated amount”, was being held.
Furthermore, the group said Swapo went back on a ceasefire agreement which stipulated that SWATF and Kovoet members had to be absorbed into the Namibian Defence Force and police.
Beukes added: “The Swapo-led government has been paying lip service on the policy of national reconciliation.
“We want backdated payment equivalent to the salary and fringe benefits of paid to a soldier in the national army for the past 23 years.”
But Mbumba maintains that the government has kept its end of the deal and did indeed absorb some of the former soldiers into the police and the army.
“There are even Swapo combatants who could not be taken up in the army and police because there is limited space,” Mbumba said.
Beukes also cried foul over how bursaries are awarded by the Ministry of Education, claiming that the children of former SWATF and Koevoet fighters are excluded.
The group will also bring to court the refusal by the government to accord them war veteran status and also wants backdated payment of the State grants paid to other veterans.
Mbumba retorted: “The law says a war veteran is one who fought for the country’s independence during the liberation struggle. They fought against their own people. What war veteran status do they want?
“If they want to challenge the law then they must do so. It is their right to approach the courts.”
Attorney General Albert Kawana told Namibian Sun that his office was ready to receive any summons and would “deal with them according to the laws of the Republic of Namibia”.
The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joel Kaapanda, said the group’s allegations do not hold water and are not substantial enough to hold government liable.