Corpses rot in homes

19 August 2019 | Health

Unregistered deaths, including infant mortalities, and corpses being left to rot in homes over weekends, are just some of the challenges being faced by the Onamatanga community.

Onamatanga residents are disappointed after they were not given an opportunity to talk to the President Hage Geingob during his presidential town hall meeting at Outapi last week.

Onamatanga village secretary Mpepo Festus told Namibian Sun the community is faced with massive challenges such as unregistered infant mortalities, corpses decomposing in homes, the abandoned 40-kilometre Omakange-Onamatanga gravel road and the ongoing water crisis in the area.

Festus said he was sent by the community to speak at the town hall meeting, but was not given an opportunity.

“We registered at the governor's office to speak during the town hall meeting, but were not given an opportunity; apparently the time was up. The president came to us to engage with people and hear their grievances, but people are not being given the opportunity to talk… we are really disappointed,” he said.

“We wanted to let the president know that Onamatanga is about 100 kilometres away from Okahao and Opuwo. Our community is disadvantaged with no up-to-standard services.”

He said the local clinic only operates from 08:00 to 17:00 during weekdays.

“In our community there are cases of unregistered child deaths, especially when it happens over the weekend while the clinic is closed. If a person dies on Friday evening while the clinic is closed, the corpse will be in the house until Monday.

“People are using traditional methods to treat people, but they are dangerous. We are using traditional methods to prevent corpses from getting spoiled, but in the process we are tampering with post-mortem investigations. We have no other way; that is the only way we can do. Sometimes you are forced to bury the bodies to stop it from getting spoiled,” Festus said.

He said there is an urgent need for the Onamatanga clinic to have a mortuary, adding that undertakers who are responsible for burying marginalised people are unlikely to collect corpses over the weekend, especially when there is no police or health officials' involvement.

He said once a person dies from natural causes in a house, the police do not collect such corpses.

“Once you call the police they will tell you to call the hospital, saying that they can only respond when there was a fight or an accident. With a child's death we do not wait and bury them that day.

“Through this, some criminal activities are being committed, but there is no police investigation, as they do not get reported. We wanted the president to hear what is happening at Onamatanga,” Festus continued.

He said life is tough at Onamatanga, as the area is only accessible via four-wheel drive vehicles.

The Roads Authority (RA) and the transport ministry, through the Omusati regional council, awarded a tender to the Roads Contractor Company (RCC) to construct the road in November 2013, but up to now the RCC only managed to de-bush part of the road.

Last year the transport ministry approved further funding of N$36 million for the construction of the gravel road, after the RCC, which was originally awarded a N$21 million tender to construct the road, failed to make headway on the project.

Festus said the community is also faced with a long-term water crisis, due to the salty underground water in the area.

In 2013, the RA drilled a borehole for the community, while planning the construction of the Omakange-Onamatanga road.

The borehole was functioning and community members were benefitting from it, but later they were told by officials from the health ministry that the water was not fit for human consumption, despite the fact that the borehole had improved their lives, because they used the water for cooking and drinking.

Ruacana constituency councillor Andreas Shintama said he was not aware that the community wanted to speak at the town hall meeting.

“We have been announcing over the radio for community members who want to speak during the town hall meeting to register, either at councillors' offices or at governor's office, but we did not get anything from Onamatanga. Many of their complaints are just general complaints, like any other community,” said Shintama.

“I have not heard about unregistered infant mortalities or corpses getting spoiled in the houses. With regard to the water and the road, those problems are known already.”

Festus said these problems are not only in Onamatanga, but in all other villages in the surrounding areas.

He said they would like better living conditions, just like any other community.


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