Iivula-Ithana warns against dungeons probe
20 August 2020 | Politics
'Could bring endless problems'Former home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana says Namibians must forgive each other but never forget about the atrocities committed during the liberation struggle.
Swapo stalwart and former home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana has cautioned Namibians against a potential inquiry into the Lubango dungeons, saying it could bring endless problems.
Her remarks came on the back of a motion tabled in the National Assembly (NA) by Swanu leader Tangeni Iijambo in June to review the successes and failures of Namibia's policy on national reconciliation.
The motion was met with dismay and was rejected by all Swapo members of parliament (MPs) prior to their 62-day break. They argued the motion was misleading in that it was merely an attack on the ruling party, rather than a bona fide attempt to heal the wounds of the past or unite the nation.
According to Iivula-Ithana, her parents died at the hands of the apartheid regime through a sting operation that involved Namibians (her neighbours in northern Namibia), who reported them to their “colonial masters” for their work in aiding Swapo's struggle. Their bodies have not been recovered to this day.
“Despite the bitterness I felt for my neighbours, there was nothing preventing me from going after them and doing whatever... The culprits are known,” she said. The Lubango dungeons, as they are notoriously known as, refer to the detainment, torture and killing of Swapo members during the liberation struggle, following accusations of them being South African spies.
“If South Africa could use our own brothers against us [Koevoet and SWATF], what could prevent them from using them as spies? I am not saying everyone was a spy. It is unfortunate that some suffered while they were innocent,” Iivula-Ithana said. For years family and friends of Namibians who never returned home from exile have demanded answers on their whereabouts, as they attempt to find closure.
Their cries seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Iivula-Ithana said Namibians must forgive each other but “never forget” about the atrocities committed during the liberation struggle perpetrated against them by their kith and kin.
“[By probing the dungeons] we are looking for something that we will never be able to solve,” she said, before hinting that a civil war could easily emanate from such an inquiry.
Iijambo's proposal suggests that Namibia must follow South Africa's intervention that saw the neighbouring country establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which helped deal with atrocities committed during apartheid.