Cold Case File: Anton Lubowski 2
Thank you for the input you have made into the matter of Late Comrade Adv. Anton Lubowski. Reading Mrs. Gaby Lubowski’s tribute brought tears to my eyes as I really do understand the situation in which she finds herself. You made mention of the Prosecutor-General and I recall having a conversation with the Late Adv. Hans Heyman, SC, of course then the Prosecutor-General on the matter. It came up amidst one of the many intellectual and legal battles he and I wrangled over from time to time. What he told me then and what you said corresponds 100%. I recall making notes at the time. One may ask: Why has such a young man taken interest in the matter of Anton Lubowski? It is simply because I understand what it is not to have closure, and I will assume, many more Namibians understand that.
That the Lubowskis are perpetually hurt by the fact that Anton was killed and no killer has been brought to account for such is understandable. There is no mitigating this hurt. It cuts deep. It is safe to say that the entire Namibian nation is hurt and not only the aforementioned by Comrade Anton Lubowski’s killing at that time - having endured so much, being so close to independence and with so much potential to impact positively upon the future of Namibia. We are all hurt because during that period, we lost mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends and the killers (by and large) to date have not been brought to book, and dare I say, who were more than competent to shape Namibia’s future if I can think of some like my own mother, Late Matron Ndamono Fiina Shanghala. A bereavement can easily be transformed into hate, anger, confusion and questions. Why? Who? and so forth...
Yet, SWAPO, the churches (Anglican, Roman Catholic and the Lutherans -ELOK/ELCIN and ELCRN), the Unions (NUNW), NANSO and other progressive organisations relevant at the time, and their leadership, sold to all of us the concept of reconciliation. We bought it, we tried it and it worked. It still works. I must confess, it is not easy. As a matter of fact, I cry sometimes when I think of my mother and uncles and cousins who have perished at the hands of the racist, minority, apartheid colonial white regime, in our country and beyond (in Angola and elsewhere).
I miss them, and it hurts terribly to think of the fact that their killers continued with their lives scot free. It is by no coincidence that all my closest friends have no relationship with their fathers to pass on to their children, because their fathers were killed during that period. Those whose fathers are alive can talk of oppression, detention, imprisonment and banishment with authority, mine included. I have said time and again, during that war, lives were lost, we merely existed as opposed to lived and we bear those scars hitherto, whatever the age we are numerically ascribed.
Sadly, the matter of the death of Comrade Anton Lubowski, if not handled appropriately, may lead to a negation of the legacy of the man himself, for many may start inquiring as to why only Anton Lubowski, were there not others and if so, is it only because he was a white Namibian?
That there were many Namibians killed and who are unaccounted for is a fact recognised even by the UN, and whose relatives and loved ones have no closure to the respective death of their loved one. One need only refer to the UN’s 59th Plenary Session Discussion of November 6, 1987 on the Question of Namibia: A situation in Namibia resulting from the illegal occupation of the Territory by South Africa. Paragraph 47 therein states the UN position that it:
“47. Demands that South Africa account for all “disappeared” Namibians and release any who are still alive, and declares that South Africa shall be liable to compensate the victims, their families and the future lawful Government of an independent Namibia for the losses sustained;”
[UN General Assembly, Question of Namibia A Situation in Namibia resulting from the illegal occupation of the Territory by South Africa , 6 November 1987, A/RES/42/14, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f21b0.html
I hope I am not accused of being ‘unflattering’ in reminding us all that Anton Lubowski never saw himself different from his comrades and colleagues. He never considered himself ‘white’ and this was evident from his movements in Katutura and where ever in the country he moved. Pick a picture of him and you will likely see him as the only white person (save for the cameramen and for the law enforcers) in a sea of blacks engaged in the liberation effort. I am told that he considered himself a freedom fighter. From first-hand accounts of what transpired that fateful day of his death, he played down the threats to his life and the lives of his comrades, refusing to accept security personnel assigned to him whilst they prepared for the arrival of the then SWAPO President, now the Founding Father, Dr. Sam Nujoma. As one of his Comrades remarked to me at the time, “when it’s your day, it’s your day.” I painfully understand this and it reminded me of similar words Meme Aletta Ngaikukwete and the Late Meme Hilundwa said of my dear mother. I could hear in the voice of Comrade Lubowski’s voice that every time his name comes up, the memory is fond and equally, the memory hurts. His Comrades loved him and considered him one of theirs. His gravestone memorialising his burial place is situated in Katutura, not anywhere near Hochland Park. That is the person who was Anton.
After reading ‘Tribute to Anton Lubowski’ by Mrs. Lubowski in the newspaper last week, I called Almo, his son and my friend, who is one year younger than me and conversed about the need for us to celebrate the lives of people like Anton Lubowski, Mokganedi Thlabanello and many others, and our concurrence that we need to avoid succumbing to our human traits of anger, retribution and vengeance at this point in time, and that we need to contribute to the building of Namibia into a country of justice, equality and freedom as these and many more comrades, including my own mother, shed their blood and died for.
What hurt the most was the accusation that it was his comrades who assassinated him. Soon there will be calls for dungeon detainees and lost ones to be accounted for by SWAPO. You might have heard before of the call for an Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In fact, one senior French Government official asked of me why I do not propose of such as Chairman of LRDC sometime last year. If we are really lucky, even the bushmen would want to claim from the Government of Namibia their ancestral land which was dispossessed of them by the racist, minority, apartheid colonial white South African regime (by the way, this reference of South Africa as it then was is factual). Lucky because court matters like that tend to educate us of our past and history lest we forget - they unearth the truth. When countrymen and women call upon these accusations of who did what and where, I am always urging for a debate that will expose the difference between what happened to the ANC in South Africa, and what happened to SWAPO in Namibia.
The Amnesty Proclamations of 1989 and 1990 [I can supply the full citations tomorrow if you need them] however, contain the consensus reached at the UNO level, that a peaceful settlement of the Namibian situation would be the only way to have Namibians attain their independence. In particular, paragraph 11(d) of Resolution 385 of January 30, 1976 adopted by the Security Council at its 1885 Meeting after having heard from Late Comrade Moses Garoeb contains a demand upon the racist, minority, apartheid colonial white South African regime worded as follows:
“Accord unconditionally to all Namibians currently in exile for political reasons full facilities for return to their country without risk of arrest, detention, intimidation or imprisonment;”
Namibians such as Sam Nujoma were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in abstentia. They could not return home if something had not been done. It was done at the UN level and the last Administrator-General for the Territory of South West Africa, Louis Pienaar, a name that will forever be remembered in infamy for that very fact, domesticated that into local law, albeit that the UN did not recognise the imposition of the AG by South Africa. Perhaps many will be enlightened to read that during the UN General Assembly discussion on the Question of Namibia, the following was resolved at paragraphs 23 - 25 that the UN:
“23. Denounces all fraudulent constitutional and political schemes by which the illegal racist regime of South Africa attempts to perpetuate its colonial domination of Namibia....
Article 140 of the Namibian Constitution however retained those laws until repealed or amended, and yours truly has the unenviable task, along with others, of ensuring that these laws are repealed and removed from the statute books, a task we are engaged in despite the rantings of some chutzpah-less individuals fixated with character assassinations via social media platforms.
Nevertheless, that amnesty, for both SWAPO returnees and those engaged in that liberation war within the Territory formed the conditio sine qua non (condition without which) reconciliation in Namibia could not have worked. Yes, people were killed. It hurts. I can attest to that. This happens during wars. Let’s not re-open the wounds is my plea. I too have questions. Many others do too. Let us remember Anton Lubowski and honour his legacy by doing our part in building a future for Namibia. These questions will pass with us into the next life. What our descendants expect as a right is a secure and stable future in a country that is run on the basis of a foundation laid by us encompassing social justice, harmony, opportunity for all and reflective of the diverse people we are.
I therefore take issue with the penultimate comment you make about another bite at the cherry, knowing very well, as I assume you would, that the odds are very slim for a prosecution of such matter for that closure. I am reminded of my not so kind conversation with Dr. Wouter Basson some years ago as the State was intent on his extradition to Namibia. The legal complexities were a bar in that matter.
Oh how I wished you would have simply left it out of your very well stated resume of the factual matters and legal matters relating to the case. You eloquently put to rest for all rational peace loving folk the insane proposition that Anton Lubowski died a hero of Namibia, killed by those who were opposed to peace and Namibia’s independence. You may have omitted to say it, however, it leads to the conclusion that he died a Member of SWAPO, a comrade, an activist, a lawyer, a strategist, a friend to many, a father, a husband (albeit estranged at the time) and a lover. However much it pains some to have all of these revealed and spoken of, that was Anton Lubowski many have commented upon.
As you rightly said, including the PG’s Office, those in the administration in the time were mainly white people. It is not surprising. After all, the regime was a racist, minority, apartheid colonial white South African regime which had exulted itself as very learned, scientific (even becoming nuclear) and superior above some others of darker melanin skin tones. I wonder what ever happened to the servants of that regime? Where did they dissipate to? Are they still with us? Have they cleansed their minds and souls? Do they still harbour such superiority tendencies? In South Africa, Late Eugine Terreblanche seemed to? Surprisingly, gladly of course, yet miraculously, we seem to have overcome such in Namibia. Even Dirk Mudge, who symbolised for many, the gloating rewards of apartheid seems reborn. Only in Namibia. Reconciliation is possible only because the many of us accept the few of them as they are. I wish Namibians could share with me this desire to move on and let free. We should not forget of course. Thats why we have memorials and shrines. Yet we need to remember all and celebrate the sacrifices of all, including Peter Nanyemba (you and I can have a glass of wine over this gallant son of Namibia) and others whom the narratives of the meta intellectuals (thanks Prof. Andre du Pisani for a well written piece) seem to neglect to recite. As I have held before and continue to do so, our homes were the battle fields at times so we need to have a balanced approach at memorialising our heroism and remembering that it was not for the benefit of any other reward than the emancipation of a colonised, subjugated and deprived people. I wish to thank you for your illuminating words once again.
How do you react to my views above?