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By: Pricilla Mukokobi

The Caprivi Concerned Group has confirmed that eight more treason  convicts walked scot free last week after decades in prison, owing to a celebrated Supreme Court ruling.

However, the group is still adamant that the attempt by a group of Zambezi political players to secede the then Caprivi from the rest of Namibia soon after the dawn of independence  was never a mistake

Speaking to The Villager, the group’s Edward Samati said, “As demanded political prisoners were released before 16h00 last week Thursday”.

“I do not know whose mistake it was, if it was a mistake. One may argue that it was the government’s mistake. Whatever happened in 1999, the government knew what would happen but acted as if they were caught sleeping.

“It could have been prevented by engaging with the secessionist leaders as early as 1998. Instead, government increased security presence in the region and harassments. I believe it is government’s mistake. Government should listen to people when they complain, and should address the concerns raised instead of being arrogant,” he said

Samati has nevertheless appreciated the decision of the highest court of the land.

“We appreciate the decision of the Supreme Court which reduced the jail terms to three years, and  the court saw the need for reconciliation, which the national political leadership does not see. Three years reduced is a little victory for justice and it is highly appreciated,”  he said.

However, Samati expressed tha the trial and incaceration has created a situation whereby  families have been seperated for far too long.

He said the children of theconvicts have been left scarred by trauma.

He stated that that the Zambezi region has suffered  brain-drain as  those arrested in 1999 and only to be found not guilty 16 years later would have contributed positively to the economy and social cohesion in the region.

“Their family members were so happy. They are very happy to reunite with their brothers, fathers or uncles after 22 years,”he said.

But despite the euphoria, Samati says his groupo is still yet to come to the point of bestowing trust in Namibia criminal justice system due to the time rthe trials took.

He said the trials were marred by political influences.

But it wil not be easy for the released convicts to pick up their lives from where they left,  now that they are free men, he said.

He said their observations have been that for those that were released in 2013 and 2015, life turned out to be tough for them and they could not easily reintegrate into society.

The Caprivi treason trial is considered to be one of the longest trials in Africa .

“We continue to call for political dialogue and a referendum to resolve the Caprivi political dispute,”he said.

He stressed that the Caprivi Concerned Group will continue to exist as long as the Caprivi political dispute is not amicably resolved.

He added that apart from releasing all Caprivi political prisoners, government should be brave enough to resolve the Caprivi political dispute by throwing the ball to the people, for them to decide through a referendum on whether they want to be part of Namibia or not.

“ We have seen former PLAN fighters and SWAPO leaders reconciling with their former enemies. Which is generally a reconciliation between blacks and whites. However, it seems reconciliation in Namibia does not apply in a black to black conflict. We call for reconciliation, but it should be preceded by truth. Truth will take us to the bottom of the conflict which would guide the two nations on the way forward. We demand political dialogue on the Caprivi political dispute,”he concluded.

Julia Heita

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