The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation has apologised to Oukwanyama Queen Meekulu Martha Mwadinomho Kristian Nelumbu after she was made to sit on a plastic chair at the funeral of senior headman Hadino Hishongwa on Saturday.
Hishongwa was the senior headman of the Omhedi district within the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority.
He died on 31 August this year at the age of 80.
Hishongwa, who also served as deputy minister and ambassador, was laid to rest at Eenhana Shrine.
He also served as Nelumbu’s adviser.
A photograph of Nelumbu sitting on a plastic chair while other dignitaries were sitting on couches was widely shared on social media on Saturday.
In a media statement issued by the deputy minister of international relations and cooperation Jenelly Matundu yesterday, the ministry said it regrets the inappropriate seating arrangements.
“The seating arrangements resulted in Meekulu Mwadinomho being unintentionally placed on a plastic chair, instead of an executive ceremonial chair as is customary,” she said.
“This unfortunate incident has caused mourners and the general public who followed the proceedings of the burial on various platforms serious dismay,” she said.
Matundu said as a government and particularly as the ministry responsible for state protocol the error is viewed in a serious light.
“We would like to offer our sincerest apology to Meekulu Mwadinomho and the people of the Ohangwena region,” she said.
“The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation is dealing with the matter internally and will take appropriate action against those responsible to ensure that such an incident does not occur again in future,” Matundu said.
Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) spokesperson for the northern regions Eino Heelu said he condemns the way Nelumbu was treated at the funeral.
He said Nelumbu should have sat next to the prime minister, who stood in for president Hage Geingob.
“What we saw was humiliation and disrespect shown to the queen by those in charge. The person who wa
zs the director of proceedings was the minister of defence and veterans affairs, Frans Kapofi, a Kwanyama. He should have been the first person to recognise the queen sitting on that chair,” Heelu said.
“Why did they treat her like that? Is it because she is a woman? We saw some small boys, so-called ministers, sitting on comfortable couches, while Meekulu was sitting on a plastic chair,” he said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Kapofi said he did not know the queen was sitting on a plastic chair as he was there to direct the programme.
“I was not there to seat people, if I was seating people I would have noticed that she was sitting on a plastic chair. I did not touch the seat as it was covered,” Kapofi said.
He said if people want to blame him, they can do so.