'Roasted' by Koevoet 27

28 June 2013 | Government

WINDHOEKSELMA IKLEA
A man who was tortured by Koevoet members 27 years ago, when they 'roasted' him over an open fire, has been given a rare opportunity to apply for war veteran status, despite the fact that he was not aged 18 at independence.
Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, Hilma Nicanor, said yesterday that Minister Nickey Iyambo will decide whether Titus Iindongo will be accorded veteran status or not.
Iindongo, 40, who is today unemployed and living in Walvis Bay, was chosen as a PLAN messenger at the age of 13 in Onyaanya.
In June 1986, Iindongo was questioned by Koevoet members who wanted information about combatants who they claimed used to be accommodated in Iindongo's father's house.
“The Koevoet members started slapping the boy around, but he refused to divulge any information. Then the white soldier ordered his members to collect mahangu stalks and lit a fire. When the fire flamed high, four Koevoets held the boy by the arms and legs and swung him over the fire, demanding that he should tell them about the PLAN combatants. That was gruesome, very gruesome,” Nicanor told a media briefing yesterday.
She said Iindongo started crying, but did not give any information to his torturers.
“He was crying of pain from that fire. When the blisters started forming on the boy's skin, one Koevoet instructed the others to stop with the 'roasting' and they dropped him and left. After a while they went back to this boy's house and set the fence, which was constructed out of tree branches on fire,” she said.
Iindongo received medical attention at an Onyaanya clinic and was later transferred to the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital.
“Imagine the pain he had endured from the Saturday up to the Monday. Pain caused by his brave decision not to reveal information about the PLAN combatants, which could have endangered his own life, family and even the entire village. That pain that he endured was indeed for the freedom of this country,” remarked the deputy minister.
Nicanor said “this being a special incident”.
She explained that Iindongo's application form will not go through the war veteran body who normally selects who qualifies, but that the decision will be “entirely on the shoulders of the minister”.
Nicanor said the Veteran Act also provides for incidences where a minister can make use of his own discretion in a certain scenario.
“We are not saying... we are going to grant him the status. He will fill in the application form and given the information, the minister will apply his mind whether to grant him (war veteran) status or not,” she added.
When asked what about other younger veterans demanding to be recognised, she replied that each case has its own merits and if there are other cases which warrant this, they will be considered.
Iindongo, who has faded burn scars, said he feels he deserves war veteran status, because he also suffered.
“Some people benefited from the ministry, but I didn't,” he said yesterday, adding that he had tried to apply for war veteran status in the past, but was told to wait for those who fought outside the country to register.
He was also discouraged to apply straight away, because of his age.
“I had been living with PLAN combatants and as young as I was, I was told to never reveal information about PLAN combatants or betray them,” he said, when asked why he did not reveal information to his torturers.

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