Two Lubango dungeons victims honoured with street names

Breaking the Wall of Silence (BWS) acting chairperson Oiva Angula has welcomed the City of Windhoek’s decision to posthumously honour two victims of the Lubango dungeons with street names on Friday.

This comes after The City of Windhoek renamed 17 streets in Windhoek after heroes who contributed to Namibia’s fight against colonialism and apartheid.

Angula says the two freedom fighters honoured by the Windhoek municipality, Simon Ndapewa Sisingi Hiskia and Ulrich Jackson Paulino, were unjustly detained, tortured and eliminated in the Lubango dungeons.

“The decision to (re)name these streets in honour of the two was not wrought in the politics of favouritism, lobbying and patronage, but an honest admission of their contribution to the liberation struggle,” he says.

Angula further says BWS has long called for the memorialisation of the hundreds of innocent victims as a critical aspect of the consolidation of transitional justice in Namibia.

“Without a proper engagement with the past and the institutionalisation of remembrance, societies are condemned to repeat, re-enact and relive the horror. Forgetting is not a good strategy for societies transiting to a minimally decent condition,” he says.

“Hiskia, a first-class and adored football administrator, was born in Grootfontein in 1942. In 1962, he was expelled from the Augustineum High School in Okahandja for his political activism against apartheid colonial rule. By 1979, following the Kranzburg bomb blast, the apartheid authorities suspected that his vehicle was used to transport the guerrillas who planted the bomb,” Angula says.

As a result, Hiskia’s vehicle was impounded and later sold at auction, he adds. 

Hisikia went into hiding and eventually escaped the country fearing that he would be accused and sentenced in terms of the Terrorism Act, No. 83 of 1967 in that he had rendered assistance to a person or persons to be believed to be ‘terrorists’, Angula adds.

“Paulino was a young guard of the Namibia Catholic Youth League in Windhoek, a skilled marimba player and an ardent Namibia National Students Organisation(Nanso) activist. He was part of the class of 1988 who directly confronted the colonial administration by mobilising and organising students and the general populace against colonialism, foreign domination and the repressive education system,” Angula says.

In June 1988, student uprisings profoundly changed the socio-political landscape of Namibia, he adds.

“In the wake of the political upheaval and the intensified repression by the apartheid police and army, Paulino skipped the country with others into Angola. According to eyewitness accounts, he was called in the middle of the night and never seen alive again.”

Angula says Paulino’s fate is similar to that of another famous Nanso leader, Johannes Axab Hendricks, who was detained by South African Security Police and shortly thereafter left Windhoek and crossed the border to join the liberation movement in exile in Angola.

Hendricks was never seen again. 

“Paulino was detained and disappeared after interrogation by the security apparatus of the liberation movement that was in the vortex of a murderous paranoia about spies, especially with regard to young educated southerners.

As a movement striving to find closure to the human rights violations committed by the liberation (Swapo), BWS has welcomed the memorialisation of the two Namibian patriots through the (re)naming of streets in their name,” says Angula.

“We must remember that there are hundreds of Namibians who perished in the Lubango dungeons and who must be publicly absolved and their dignity restored.”

He says it is equally important that an official and direct apology be extended to the living victims and families affected without further delay.

“Place names play a very important role in our heritage and shared sense of history as a people. Naming streets, parks, roads, places, schools, buildings and any amenities after those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, is a fitting way to pay immortal tribute to their extraordinary courage, unflinching loyalty, unselfish love and supreme devotion, and also help their memories to live on.”

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