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Namoloh to lead pilgrimage to Cassinga

by Kelvin Chiringa


Safety and security minister, Charles Namoloh, will lead a delegation of survivors and interested Namibians to Cassinga on the 28th of April for the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre slated for the 4th of May. 

The controversial airborne raid at the former town of Cassinga on the 4th of May 1978 during Namibia’s armed struggle marked a dark period in the liberation effort.

It saw the massacre of 600 Namibians, mostly women and children, leaving hundreds more injured and the day has become an important moment on the Swapo and national calendar.

Announcing the pilgrimage last week, Namoloh said there will be many activities lined before and during the day and indicated that Namibians who may not necessarily be survivors were welcome to come along.

“You must have a valid passport, yellow fever immunisation and there will be vehicles to take people. Those with their own vehicles can come but you should be driving the 4 by 4 type.  Bring a sleeping tent, water -roof boots, a sleeping bag and mosquito repellents,” said the minister. 

On the 28th of April, the pilgrims will hit the road for Tchetekela, spend a day there before driving the next day to Ondjiva and from there to Lubango.

“The Cassinga and Vietnam/Tchetekela survivors have been preparing for the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Cassinga massacre since July 2016. Every person going on the trip has to make some financial contribution towards the organisation of the trip. The survivors have opened a fund raising bank account for this purpose,” he said. 

He also said details of the bank account can be obtained from the organising committee via a contact persons Mrs.  Elize Hishongwa (0811221333).

People are advised to wear track-suits, T-shirts and caps all costing N$600.

“The survivors will use their dress code during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Cassinga massacre. People who want to have this dress code can place their orders to the organising committee for the attention of Mrs. Cecilia Muzile (0812857376)," he said.  

The pilgrims are expected to arrive at Cassinga by the 3rd of May, a day before the anniversary and strike camp. 

The minister however cautioned that bridges along the way had been reportedly washed away by heavy rains.

“You can call me and I will give you more contact details, if you are driving alone you may skip being in Tchetekela and drive straight to Cassinga,” he also advised.

Speaker of parliament, Peter Katjavivi said people will have to drive in a convoy for security reasons and to assist others along the way due to the said bad roads and potential mechanical faults.

Meanwhile, according to the Swapo party, contrary to reports that Cassinga was a Swapo military base, it was a settlement given to Swapo by the government of Angola to register and house thousands of refugees who were fleeing their country. 

The party maintains that the camp was organized in a manner that facilitated orderly day to day administration while there were classes and a clinic, complete with nurses and paramedics.

A Cuban professor, Yeniska Martinex Diaz who came to Namibia last year in August on a fact finding mission also echoed that some of the historical events that culminated to the ghastly murder of thousands had been distorted.