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“We Can’t Stay Away From The River,” Says Frightened Mukwe Villagers

By: Annakleta Haikera

Residents of Mukwe constituency (Kavango East) who live near the infamous Kavango river, which has claimed about 30 lives since 2020, say they cannot stop going to the river as it is their only source of livelihood and that the rivers play a big role in all that they call life.

Earlier this month, two bodies of Felix Disho Thikundeko and Benhard Kapingawere were found at Mukwe, floating at Rudhiva and Mbapuka Villages, respectively.

Thikundeko’s body was found with several body parts missing, while Kapingawere’s family members also claim his body was missing parts. Community members believe they have been victims of ritual killings. Both bodies were found in the river and were retrieved by the Namibian Police.

Despite all these occurrences, the villagers near the river say they cannot stay away.

Mumba Shikusho, a resident of Rudhiva village where Thikundeko’s body was found, says they need government to assist them in accessing clean water to their homes.

“We have a Green Scheme at Shadikongongoro that can provide us with clean water, but the owners of the Green Schemes are unable to help.”

Shikusho also urged the safety ministry to come to Mukwe Constituency for a thorough investigation.

“Maybe then many culprits will be brought to book. Some of the shebeen owners are involved in killing our people, but the law says until proven guilty, you cannot have a suspect with no evidence. This is making it difficult for us villagers to come forth with information.”

Dinyando Thitjo, a resident at Shadikongiro, told The Villager that the community uses the river daily.

“Bodies found dead floating in the river remains a mysterious incident, but I can tell you one thing: these bodies are dumped in the river to clear evidence.”

According to Thitjo, people doing this are believed to be very smart because they know how to cover up their bad deeds. “Every time a body is found, these people come from shebeens and then attack their prey. They will then cut off whatever parts before dumping the body in the river. I think these people use canoes because there’s no trace of footprints found at the spot where the bodies are found.”

Another resident who wants to remain anonymous said the police in Mukwe are not doing enough to prevent these types of crimes from happening.

“Thus some believed that the Police are also involved in such killings and the business community at Mukwe.”

Earlier this year, the agriculture ministry installed a water purification plant in Rundu to alleviate the burden of residents using the Kavango River.

Last year the Kavango East police reported that 27 people died on the Kavango river between April 2020 and December 2021. According to the police, some were murdered and thrown into the river, others drowned, while crocodiles and hippopotamus attacked others. Of the cases reported by Kavango East Regional Police, 20 are Namibian men, six Namibian women and a Zimbabwean man.

Meanwhile, last week, Steven Degwe (22) appeared in the Mukwe Periodical court, along with Alexander Kandere (36), on charges of murder and defeating the course of justice in connection with 17-year-old Thikundeko’s death.

According to Thikundeko’s family, he and Degwe were close childhood friends who shared a local soccer team, Shandjunu Shamarawo United.

The late Thikundeko played as a left-winger, and before his disappearance, he was expected to play on Saturday, 2 July for the U-20 team in the Constituency team at Mayara Village.

Julia Heita

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