Ondangwa war graves are safe

05 June 2019 | Local News

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has welcomed a decision by the Ondangwa town council to develop a piece of land where two soldiers were buried during the First World War.

The town council has approved a request by the Ondangwa Private Hospital to use the land for a parking lot.

Town council CEO Ismael Namgongo says the hospital and the developer have promised not to harm the graves during the project.

“We have informed the CWGC about our decision and it is up to them to decide whether they will relocate the graves or to keep them as they are,” Namgongo says.

The CWGC is an intergovernmental organisation representing six Commonwealth member states. Its principal function is to mark, record and maintain war memorials and the graves of Commonwealth soldiers who died in the two world wars.

Responding to Namibian Sun's enquiries from the commission's headquarters in the United Kingdom, CWGC spokesperson Peter Francis said they welcomed the Ondangwa town council's plan to enhance the appearance of the area surrounding the two Commonwealth war graves, to make them more accessible and to guarantee their security.

“The exhumation and relocation of any war grave under threat is always a last step for the CWGC and something we only consider in cases of overwhelming public necessity. We look forward to working with the council to ensure the graves remain a fitting tribute to those who died, and a place of pride, learning and remembrance for generations to come,” said Francis.

“In Namibia we commemorate almost 650 individuals at 39 different locations. The majority of those buried and commemorated in Namibia died during the First World War.”

According to Francis, across the world, CWGC commemorates 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and -women who died during the two world wars.

“We care for their graves and memorials at 23 000 locations in more than 150 countries and territories,” he said.

ILENI NANDJATO