Dungeon sufferers oppose Sampofu’s mooted defence appointment

22 April 2021 | Politics

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

The mooted appointment of Zambezi governor Lawrance Sampofu as the country’s next defence minister is being met with disdain from those who claim they suffered torture in the so-called Lubango dungeons.

Speculation is rife that Sampofu, a career soldier who served as a colonel in the Namibian Defence Force after independence, is being lined up as the country’s next defence minister.

This after former defence minister Peter Vilho was removed from this position amid allegations of corruption.

If the alleged appointment materialises, Sampofu will be the country’s first non-Oshiwambo-speaking minister of defence.

The potential appointment is sending chills down the spines of former exile detainees in Angola and Zambia.

Reacting to the development, former Lubango detainee Oiva Angula said it was worrying that Sampofu may be considered.

‘Moral betrayal’

“The rumoured appointment of Sampofu as possible minister of defence is deeply troubling to the survivors of Swapo’s Lubango dungeons. If it materialises, it will not only be a sad day for Namibian democracy but will also constitute an unprecedented act of moral betrayal on the part of Dr Hage Geingob during his presidency,” said Angula, speaking in his capacity as acting chairperson of Breaking the Wall of Silence organisation.

Sampofu, Angula alleged, was responsible for the torture of many Namibians in exile.

“Sampofu, together with his disgraced commander Solomon Dumeni Hawala, also known as ‘The Butcher of Lubango’ and others were part of the Swapo intelligence cabal that was responsible for the arrest, torture and jailing of innocent Namibians in Angola and Zambia after accusing them of being so-called Boer spies. Hawala, commonly called Jesus, spearheaded the Stalinist pogroms of alleged apartheid spies within the liberation movement at the time,” Angula said.

The appointment of Sampofu would also bring into the spotlight Namibia’s commitment to reconciliation and human rights.

“Given Sampofu’s direct involvement in serious gross violations against hundreds of Namibians in Angola during the war of independence led by Swapo, his appointment will severely compromise Namibia’s commitment to promote justice and accountability in the context of the Namibian Constitution, which promotes reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Namibia,” Angula said.

Angula added that the noise around Sampofu’s potential appointment was a bad joke.

“Quite frankly, therefore, I thought the rumoured appointment of Sampofu to a ministerial portfolio was a bad April Fool's joke. It is absolutely unacceptable, absolutely inconceivable that his individual would have a role as a defence minister in a Namibian democracy that values human rights and human dignity,” added Angula.

No comment

Sampofu, when approached for comment, would neither confirm nor deny that he is being lined up for the defence portfolio.

“No, I can’t react to this. I just see these things on social media.”

State House also refused to shed light on the matter.

“The Presidency does not comment on rumours regarding appointments by the head of state,” presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari said.

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