Miserable, hopeless life

Our roving journalist Ileni Nandjato has uncovered conditions of unimaginable domestic squalor and neglect in the Ohangwena Region.

17 February 2017 | Social Issues

About ten destitute elders and 12 ailing young people are living among other San people in a small community close to Oshipala village near Omundaungilo in the Ohangwena Region.

Some of these people do not leave their makeshift rag tents, which they call home, for months due to old age, blindness or chronic illness.

The hidden community, which is home to about 900 people, faces social exclusion. It is now the rainy season and they are exposed to the full force of the elements.

Many of the elders and the school-age children do not receive pensions or social grants from the government and the community lives in total isolation from the rest of the world.

Not one member of the community knew their age and Namibian Sun could only determine this from those who have documents.

Speaking from her rag tent, providing only partial shelter and covered with a tattered blanket, Shaambeni Mushati, 94, told Namibian Sun that she had been blind for many years now.

She spends all her days and nights in her little room and says she cannot tell the difference.

“The only time I get out of my house is when people are repairing it for rain. I am old and blind and I cannot go anywhere.

I was not born here, but we came to this place many years ago. I get pension through my children,” Mushati said. Next to Mushati's structure is that of the completely hapless 97-year-old Namatembu Haixuxua. According to Mushati, Haixuxua is very old and doesn't talk.

“I am better off than her. She doesn't talk and she only spends all the days and night sleeping.

Her children and grandchildren feed her,” Mushati said.

Rusia Hamukanda, 97, told Namibian Sun about her 26-year-old grandchild and namesake's condition. The young Rusia cannot walk and she spends most of her time in her little structure.

According to Hamukanda senior, she fell sick eight years ago while she was pregnant.

“She was taken to Eenhana hospital, where she was diagnosed with polio. Due to that, doctors helped her to give birth through an operation. After giving birth, both she and her child, Aily Kamati, were diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and they became disabled,” Hamukanda said.

Kamati is now a learner at Okahenge Combined School, but Hamukanda said the child has some kind of diaphragm deformity.



'Nothing we can do'

Approached for comment, the Ohangwena regional councillor for Omundaungilo, Festus Ikanda, said this San group was one of many living in his constituency.

He acknowledged that they live in very harsh conditions, but said there was not much his office could do for them.

“We feed these people through a special food relief programme through the office of the vice-president,” he said.

“Each person living in those communities receives an allocation of food individually and not per household as other people get under the drought-relief programme. We take care of their health, including transporting them to hospitals.”

Ikanda said he was aware of their need for shelter, but his office had no means to help them.

“We have no place to take the ailing and elderly. That is why last year we supported the bill that proposed construction of old-age homes in all the regions. We could take them there,” Ikanda said. Community leader Casada Amupolo acknowledged that they get food aid, and that a few elders receive pension payouts, while some receive vulnerable children grants. However, she said, this was not enough for them. Most members of the community were issued with identity documents stating incorrect or estimated ages, as they were unable to provide their dates of birth.

Those who have no documents cannot receive any assistance. He said when the government food runs out, they depend on hunting and wild fruits for survival, but people who fence off land prevent them from going onto their land to look for wild fruits.

“There are few people who care for us. They come here and offer us a little domestic work to do, and then they give us money, food or clothes. That is how we survive,” Amupolo said.

ILENI NANDJATO

Similar News

 

Miserable, hopeless life

1 week ago - 17 February 2017 | Social Issues

About ten destitute elders and 12 ailing young people are living among other San people in a small community close to Oshipala village near Omundaungilo...

Life at the dumpsite

1 month - 04 January 2017 | Social Issues

While some are on holiday and enjoying the festive season, a group of Babylon informal settlement residents are sifting through garbage to trade in for...

Windhoek welcomes 31 babies on Xmas

1 month - 28 December 2016 | Social Issues

Thirty-one babies were born at state hospitals in Windhoek on Christmas Day. Cathrine Bonaya, a registered nurse at the Windhoek Central Hospital, told Nampa...

Ongha elders, orphans treated to early Christmas party

2 months ago - 19 December 2016 | Social Issues

Christmas came early for pensioners and orphans and vulnerable children at Ongha in the Endola Constituency of the Ohangwena Region.On Thursday more than 50 elders...

Namibians among biggest boozers in Africa

3 months ago - 17 November 2016 | Social Issues

ELLANIE SMIT There is no doubt that Namibians love their beer.And according to the World Health Organisation, Namibians are among the heaviest alcohol users on...

Man with baby passes out near road

3 months ago - 07 November 2016 | Social Issues

JANA-MARI SMITHA Rundu couple made a shocking discovery late at night last week when they found a man passed out close to a busy road...

Windhoek street kids return home

3 months ago - 04 November 2016 | Social Issues

JANA-MARI SMITH Fifteen street kids who have been begging at several Windhoek intersections were taken back to Gobabis on Wednesday...

Streets top option for some children

4 months ago - 24 October 2016 | Social Issues

JANA-MARI SMITHFamily poverty and food insecurity are some of the main factors driving children from their homes and onto the streets, a recent study of...

Zambezi children’s situation still dire

6 months ago - 02 August 2016 | Social Issues

The situation of child-headed households in the Zambezi Region exposed by this newspaper in March remains dire.A social worker told Namibian Sun that children living...

Bridge children are going home

7 months ago - 04 July 2016 | Social Issues

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has taken the children who had made the Avis Bridge in Windhoek their home to a local...

Latest News

Robber assaults sleeping baby

14 hours ago | Crime

JESSICA BOTES A Swakopmund mother of twin babies is the latest victim of a string of violent burglaries in Swakopmund.At approximately 03:50 on Wednesday, a...

Rosh Pinah Zinc workers want...

14 hours ago | Labour

Workers at the Rosh Pinah Zinc Mine have given management four working days to remove its employee relations specialist, Angeline Barnard-Hagen, or face “unforeseen action”.In...

Land activists say they won't...

14 hours ago | Politics

The Landless People's Movement has indicated its intention to approach the ombudsman to compel the land reform ministry to release its version of the resettlement...

Union wants non-compliant retailers to...

14 hours ago | Labour

The Namibia Wholesale and Retail Workers Union (NWRWU) has demanded that the minister of labour call retailers that exploit workers to order. The union claims...

Hoff guilty of attempted murder...

14 hours ago | Crime

Susanne Hoff (56) was found guilty of the attempted murder of her estranged husband, Egbert Hoff, by the Windhoek Regional Court yesterday.Hoff, who pleaded not...

Ondonga backs Nangolo to succeed...

14 hours ago | Cultural

The Ondonga Traditional Authority on Tuesday affirmed that Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo is the Ondonga king-in-waiting.The OTA said in a statement that King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas...

Dineo storms onto bucket list

14 hours ago | Disasters

When you plan a sunny Mozambican holiday in February, the last thing you expect is to be caught up in a cyclone. (Well, maybe we...

The 2017 Budget should demonstrate...

14 hours ago | Opinion

BY MALLY LIKUKELA As preparations for the 2017 National Budget gather momentum and a greater participation by various stakeholders becomes evident. The budget is...

I am a foolishly wise...

14 hours ago | Opinion

I have always been fascinated by the manner in which the Police in United States of America, in cities like New York, Los Angeles or...

Load More