WINDHOEK, 24 AUG – Namibia’s liberation struggle may have come and gone, but the dark period in the country’s history left 77-year-old Daniel Hamatwi with lasting physical and psychological scars.
Hamatwi, who resides in Suni village located about 70 kilometres west of Nkurenkuru in the Kavango East Region with his wife Helvi and relatives, played a silent, yet important role during the liberation struggle, a role for which he paid dearly.
The then Kavango Region shared a regional border with the former Homeland of Ovamboland, which served as the main stage for the war between the South African armed forces and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia between 1966 to 1989.
It was during these 23 years that Hamatwi suffered unforgettable atrocities at the hands of the South West Africa Territorial Forces (SWATF) and Koevoet, who would regularly invade his residence.
Hamatwi explained that the suffering he endured started with interrogations on the whereabouts of People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighters.
“The founding father, Sam Nujoma would announce on the radio that PLAN fighters are our brothers and sons fighting for the independence of Namibia, therefore if they pass by your house hungry, give them anything at your disposal to eat,” said Hamatwi.
Heeding Nujoma’s call, with the hope of one day residing in an independent Namibia, Hamatwi played his part in providing food and shelter to as many PLAN combatants as he could.
However, it was this choice that would result in his teeth being forcibly extracted, one by one, while he also suffered castration at the hands of both Koevoet and SWATF members.
Detailing his ordeal in a recent interview with Nampa, Hamatwi said he gave everything he had, lost loved ones and suffered severe economic losses for Namibia.
Hamatwi said Koevoet would ask him if he had seen PLAN fighters and his refusal to respond to their questions would earn him beatings, assaults with weapons, strangulation, as well as having his mouth filled with sand as means of interrogation.
“Any footprints that they stumbled upon, they would come to my house accusing me of hiding PLAN fighters” said Hamatwi.
He recounted the times when he would tell the Koevoet/SWATF members to search for the PLAN combatants where they saw the footprints and they would instead end up destroying his belongings and killing his livestock before beating him.
Despite this, Hamatwi remained resolute and assisted PLAN fighters in their plight to liberate Namibia.
He further noted that on some occasions, SWATF and Koevoet soldiers would capture his three (now deceased) children while herding cattle and they would hold their faces against the exhaust pipes of their Casspirs, forcing them to inhale the smoke emanating from there.
“I endured all the hatred and anger they had for Swapo. If it was not for God’s grace, I would not have been alive today,” Hamatwi narrated.
Narrating his hardship further, he said there was a day the Koevoet soldiers killed a PLAN soldier and came to his residence, asking him if he knew the soldier.
“That day, they assaulted me and my family members and forced us to cut the unknown PLAN soldier’s right leg, saying we should cook the leg and eat it because we kept on helping them,” he added.
Hamatwi said the soldier was tortured before he died as both his eyes were removed.
The Koevoet/SWATF soldiers, Hamatwi recalls, left the body at his homestead and he took it upon himself to bury the unknown soldier in a make-shift grave that still stands a few metres from his homestead.
Hamatwi, however, said he is glad that Namibia is now independent and things have changed. – NAMPA