Namibia: Homeless Want Separation From Ex-Koevoet Fighters

HOMELESS people living alongside former Koevoet members at the Katutura Youth Centre are pleading with the Ministry of Health and Social Services to separate the two groups amid ongoing tensions over access to food.

John Samuel, who lives at the centre, says the conflict is being instigated by the volunteers at the centre who distribute food among residents.

“These so-called volunteers put the food in their own tents. An incident we shall never forget took place on 19 February when they distributed food among the ex-South African fighters … leaving us as homeless people vulnerable,” he says.

Samuel says the ex-Koevoet fighters are favoured when it comes to food.

The ex-Koevoet soldiers, however, hit back saying it is not true.

Ukaningirua Muharukua, an ex-Koevoet soldier, says there are fewer homeless people, who therefore receive less food.

“We even help these people with food when they run out,” he says.

The homeless group at the centre yesterday handed a petition over to the health ministry in which they raised concerns about their living conditions.

Vejii Batire (26) says she has been diagnosed with a bacterial vaginal infection twice, which is caused by the toilets at the youth complex.

“We are not against the government in any way. All we ask is to be treated like humans and separated. Because of the dirty bathrooms we are forced to use, I have been to the hospital countless times over infections,” she says.

She says the centre not only provides them with too little food, but they are also not provided with cleaning materials to keep their environment hygienic.

The group of homeless people previously resided at the Herero Commando Hall at Katutura.

Due to Covid-19 regulations, they were forced to move from the hall as it was overcrowded and lacked water and electricity, Batire says.

She says vice president Nangolo Mbumba promised them a place to stay, which has not materialised.

Ignesia Kazohua (55) says living at the centre is depressing as her two teenage sons are not allowed to live with her.

“I sneak them in during the night, and now that they are not part of the programme, they eat from my plate,” Kazohua says.

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