‘We told him to throw it away’

… boy dies after picking up explosive device

Immanuel Loteni (41) says he could not bear to look at the remains of his son Penelao Immanuel (15), who died in a grenade explosion at Eenhana on Tuesday.

The area where Penelao found the device was previously an army base.

The police say the incident happened at the Etoto rubbish dump in the Ohangwena region at around 17h00.

Police officers reported that a 40mm explosive grenade of unknown origin exploded and caused the boy’s death.

Penelao allegedly picked up the grenade and hit it with a stick while herding cattle with three other boys his age.

The three boys are currently admitted in the Eenhana hospital, where they are being treated for minor injuries sustained and receive counselling.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, the distraught father said Penelao couldn’t secure placement at school and, therefore, took his chores to herd the family cattle seriously.

“I was at work when I heard the terrible news about the incident of the explosion. They told me my son had died after picking up the strange device which he played with.

“My son, as the oldest, allegedly grabbed the device and carried it as they continued walking.”

While carrying the object, Penelao allegedly tapped it with his herding stick, causing a funny sound to come from it, and the other boys reportedly advised Penelao to throw it away, said Loteni.

He reportedly said he did not want to throw the device away because he wanted to explore it and find out what it was.

“The device exploded in his hands. He died terribly. He was wounded all over,” said Loteni.

Ohangwena region police crime investigations coordinator deputy commissioner Zacharias Amakali described the scene of the incident as horrifying.

“Only people who have been to a war zone can withstand the sight of that incident. That area was de-mined, but we all know that it was a military zone. But maybe not all the mines were removed. It is an unfortunate incident that happened.

“I am further advising people in the region that the message remains the same, “don’t touch it, report it”.

People should not touch strange things they come across, but rather report this to the police, said Amakali.

The three surviving children said as they herded cattle and goats in the former army base, they came across a metallic device and picked it up because they were curious about it.

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