CAPRIVI ZIPFEL: THE CONTROVERSIAL STRIP (PART III)
| CAPRIVI ZIPFEL: THE CONTROVERSIAL STRIP (PART III)
August 23, 2005
CAPRIVI ZIPFEL: THE CONTROVERSIAL STRIP (PART III)
GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
As stated above thousands of Caprivians crossed into Botswana for fear of their lives. While in Botswana the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Liaison officer Mr. Cosmas Chanda and the then regional representative in Pretoria Mr. Kebede used their influence into repatriating about one thousand Caprivians back home. All efforts by the Caprivian leadership to advice hem not to repatriate these people since they were going to face harassments, intimidation, torture and arrest proved fruitless. On arrival back in Caprivi, the repatriates movements were strictly monitored, Midnight interrogations and torture with a view of extracting information about why they went to Botswana and what they actually did in Botswana became the order of the day. Given the above atrocities Caprivians couldn’t take it any longer, the elasticity of their patience could stretch no further. On the second of August 1999 a serious attack was launched on a few government installations such as Mpacha military base, Winela military base, katounyana and Katima Mulilo police station.
The Namibian regime put the number of casualties to thirteen (13) that is five (5) CLA members and eight (8) government security officers. This is great distortion. The truth of the matter is that all those who were in Mpacha military base and those who were arriving in the morning very few survived death. At Winela military base many were also killed. At Katima Mulilo police station all those who were on duty and those who were in the bungalows who wanted to came and see what was happening were all killed. At Katima Mulilo shopping center about three (3) soldiers were killed. Of all the targeted areas the only place where they were few casualties was Katounyana, where only two soldiers were killed at the gate. The Namibian regime also blames CLA for the attack on the NBC, but CLA had no intention to destroying existing infrastructures in the Caprivi. Infect they entered the NBC buildings with the intention of announcing that Caprivians were no longer considered Namibians, but CAPRIVIANS. However on hearing that their colleagues have left Mpacha military base, they also left the building without making this announcement. When the Namibian soldiers arrived at the NBC building they assumed that CLA members were still inside and so started bombarding the building. The whole damage to the building was done by government soldiers themselves.
Some people from certain quarters mention that from the 2nd August 1999 there have not been any other contacts between the CLA and the government security forces. This is far from the truth, many contacts took place, to mention a few examples there was a contact near Sibbinda where many soldiers were killed and CLA lost only two members. In the same year 1999 towards he end of October another attack took place at Lizauli, here again many soldiers lost their lives and CLA lost none. On the 4th of November 2002 another serious attack took place at Kapani and here again many soldiers died and CLA lost two of their members. It is surprising that people regard all these and many others as a single attack. From the above it becomes crystal clear that the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) is a force to be reckoned with and should never be under-estimated. The fact that CLA is not in action presently doesn’t mean that they cannot sustain the war. It is just because Caprivians believe that there is no weapon stronger than negotiations. We also believe that the Caprivian case is a political case which needs a political solution. All the above mentioned contacts/attacks come about as result of the humiliation, intimidation, harassment, torture and extra judicial killings endured by the Caprivians at the hands of the Namibian regime’s security forces. It is also our belief that the Namibian regime learnt a lesson from those attacks and that is, Caprivians means business.
ARRESTS, DENTETIONS, TORTURE AND EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS.
The Namibian constitution has been described by the international community as one of the best in the world. It is however regrettable that this democratic constitution has become a white elephant which serves no purpose to Namibians let alone Caprivians who have all along been as third class Namibians.
The Namibian constitution was suppose to stand for fundamental rights such as the prevention of arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, torture, protection of human life to mention but a few. Most of these remain in force even during the state of emergence.
After the 2nd of August 1999 hundreds of innocent Caprivians were arrested and detained in the Grootfontein prisons. These poor Caprivians were accused of being involved in the attack and thus were labeled as terrorists and eventually charged with treason, murder, attempted murder, possession of fire arms and ammunitions, sedition and many more. It is important to mention here that most of these people were picked in the homes and work places respectively. It is also worth mentioning that some of the detainees are prisoners of conscience and are victims of circumstances. During their arrest and detentions, these poor Caprivians were subjected to severe torture so much that most of them (if not all) sustained permanent scars and disabilities while others died as result of this severe torture. To substantiate these we can give the following examples: Martin Sabo Chainda and Dino Daiz are examples of some of those who sustained permanent scars, while others like Mr. Geoffrey Mwilima also sustained broken jaw that resulted into a permanent disability. The other person worth mentioning is Mr. Bernard Baeti Mucheka whose urinary system was badly damaged to an extent he cannot control it and many others. So far twelve (12) Caprivians have died in the Grootfontein prison as a result of torture and systematic killings. Here with the name list of those died in prison; Stephen Muhinda Mamili, Francis Kelezo Malambo, Brain Mushandikwe, Sydney Sinvula Lisho, Nicholas Thomas Toliso, Joseph Siboyili Kaliyangile, Walubita Erasmus Chika, Cassius Henry Pelekelo, Bernard Nyamazao Makunde, Felix Munangisa, Eugene Kulisesa and Oscar Lupalezwi. In all these cases no medical examinations were conducted to ascertain the actual causes of deaths from the side of government. The only case in which a medical examination was conducted at the insistence of the family members was that of late Oscar Lupalezwi. It is interesting to note that the examination confirmed that he died as result of torture.
As stated above Caprivians in prisons have been charged with treason and many other charges, as such Namibians have labeled them as criminals who have committed criminal offences. However, let it be stated here that to fight for liberation of one’s country is not a criminal offence. It is a right enshrined in many international instruments to which the Namibian government is signatory. Article one (I) of the UN Covenant for political, economic and social Rights clearly states this. It should also be made clear that Swapo also waged a liberation struggle for the independence of Namibia. In the same way Caprivians are fighting for the liberation of their motherland, the Caprivi Zepfel. In the same way that Swapo referred to themselves as freedom fighters, Caprivians are also freedom fighters and not criminals. There is no law in the world which has ever defined treason as a criminal offence. Whoever is charged with treason must be regarded as a political offender whose case needs a political solution. Caprivians are not prepared to take an inch of the soil from any country; they only want the Caprivi soil as was demarcated by the colonial powers in accordance with the provisions of the then OAU protocol.
After their detention it took them almost five years to be accorded opportunity for their case to be heard. During their appearances in court a problem was identified that of legal representation. The Namibian government was not prepared to give legal representation to these Caprivians although their constitution demanded them to do so. This problem was compounded by the fact that the Namibian regime had no evidence regarding the allegation labeled against these people. A court order had to be issued to force the Namibian government to provide legal council assistance to the detained. Even then they provided legal council of their on choice and not the detainee’s choice. The Namibian constitution provides that the detainees themselves were supposed to have chosen their own legal representatives. It goes without saying that who ever is chosen by the government will always be accountable to the one who chose him. This case is no exception, which means the fairness of this trial is very much questionable. Another problem arose during the trial of the first (13) detainees. That problem was that of the contradiction among state witnesses. State witnesses such as the station commander of the Katima Mulilo police station and his deputy, the army chief of staff Mr. Martin Shali and chief paramilitary dramatically contradicted themselves in court to such an extent that it left the judge with no option but to discharge the thirteen (13). This ruling came about because in the first place the court found it had no jurisdiction over the thirteen, and secondly that there was no substantial evidence to incriminate them. This lack of evidence forced the Namibian security forces to charge the thirteen after they were rearrested the same day with old offence which they had already served the prison sentence in some other cases and were discharged in others. To cite an example they were charged found in possession of elephant tasks, which only involved Mr. John Samboma, a case for which he served a prison sentence in 1992.
They were also charged with theft of car keys, something that happened in 1998 election campaigns. Although some of the thirteen were present at that demonstration, none of them was involved with the handling of the car keys in question. The case was resolved the very some day of the demonstration. The above is a clear testimony to prove how much the Namibian regime is struggling to have evidence to incriminate Caprivians. This struggle could further be demonstrated by the fact that state witnesses had to be coached to by the government regarding what to present in court. In many instances writing statements for them and making them to sign the statements. In other cases, government resorted to forceful retrieval of information from people, in most cases repatriates from Botswana. It is obvious that it is difficult to know for sure what you have been forced to learn, which led to contradiction during presentation.
Something dramatic occurred which is government’s use of force on the judiciary. After the re-arrest of the thirteen, government used their power to force the judiciary to accept an application for the appeal of the ruling of the high court which provided that the courts had no jurisdiction over the thirteen.
According to the defense council even the government’s grounds of appeal were not legally valid to warrant this appeal. In spite of the above facts, government forced the appeal into the appeal court. What was more disturbing was the composition of the bench of judges who were to preside over the case. It was composed of all acting judges including the chief justice himself, who was also acting in that capacity. The Namibian constitution provides that at least the chief justice and a few other judges on the bench must be substantively appointed to their position in order to give such a ruling. It is however regrettable to state here that the ruling which was passed by these acting judges still stands to this day, a clear indication that judiciary in Namibian is never independent.
Another group of Caprivians fled to Botswana in the morning of the 2nd August 1999, on arrival in Botswana they were placed in various prisons of Botswana. In 2000 the Namibian government applied for their extradition which had to go through court of law. The magistrate’s court in Gaborone ruled in favor of the Namibians by ruling that they should be extradited. The ruling was challenged in the high court by the thirteen (13) which they did win on the 3rd of December 2003, meaning that the ruling was dismissed. The Namibian government against the high court ruling, but they lost this appeal on the 27 of July 2004, at the court of appeal in Botswana.
According to this ruling the detainees were supposed to be released indicating those who are in similar circumstances with them but to this day they are still languishing in the Francis town detention center and Gaborone central prison respectively, seemingly people are happy to see them suffering in prison.
WHAT DO CAPRIVIANS WANT?
As far back as 1962, Caprivians had made their intention clear and that is they had been advocating for the independence of their motherland. The formation of Caprivi National Union (CANU) and eventually the United Democratic Party (UDP) was meant to facilitate and pursue these aims and objectives. It is important that the international community realize the fact that the aims and objectives of the people of the Caprivi to this day have not been achieved. Merging with Swapo did not mean that Caprivians had abandoned their idea of liberating their motherland the CAPRIVI ZEPFEL. It was only meant to fight a common enemy occupying the two countries. For Caprivians this merger changed nothing. What they wanted in 1964 is still the same thing that they want today, the liberation of their motherland. The Namibian government is on recode denying that they were not reminded of the issue of relating to the plight of the Caprivians. In the first place this is beside the point, because everybody in Swapo knew the condition attached to the merger. Secondly everybody knew the discrimination of Caprivians, so much that the CANU leadership was forced to leave Swapo just because they had reminded Swapo leadership about the conditions of the merger. Back home in the Caprivi, the Namibian government did not tolerate anybody who mentioned about the Caprivi as a separate entity. The Pretoria trip mentioned earlier, although it was blown out proportion is one good example of how government reacted to issues.
On arrival in exile in Botswana in 1998, letters were written to various organizations such as the UN, SADC, OAU and WCC informing them of the plight of Caprivians and requesting them to put the Caprivi case on their priority list of their agenda. All this was and is done in the name of liberation of our motherland. We want to emphasis the fact that Caprivians to this day are not independent. The independence of Namibia, according to article 39(5) of the constitution, act 39 of 1968, was illegally imposed on the Caprivians because this act stipulates clearly that Namibian laws should not apply to the Caprivi. It is therefore clear given the provision of this act that Caprivi was and is a separate Country, which needed a separate independence from that of Namibia, brought about by the Caprivians themselves. Caprivians are their own liberators.
It not true to say that the idea of liberation of the Caprivi is one sided. This is a view of those who lack information on the history of the Caprivi, because every Caprivian took part in the activities of CANU and eventually the formation of the United Democratic Party (UDP). The leadership of the UDP comprises of members from all sides of the Caprivi, which means members cover the entire Caprivi.
United Democratic Party (UDP)
Backward never!! Forward ever!!!
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