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Borders closed

Borders closed

Placido Hilukilwa

THE international border between Namibia and Angola is literally under lock and key.

 

Gates are locked and are being guarded by very strict police officers on both sides of the border.

 

Informanté spent hours at the Oshikango border post on Saturday. Travellers continued to arrive trying to leave or enter Namibia, either because they were oblivious to the fact that the border was closed or because they had no choice but to travel.

 

It was mostly Angolan nationals who turned up, having entered Namibia days before the border was closed.

 

Most were allowed to proceed after providing proof that they are indeed Angolan nationals.

 

Those who entered Namibia without proper documents, however, face serious problems.

 

 

One of those who were turned away was Pedro Hiyoonanye, originally from Okapangu north of Ondjiva, who was coming from Omuthiya where he is employed as a cattle herder.

 

He has no identification documents.

 

The Angolan police officers simply chased him away.

 

“My mother has just passed away in Angola and I must go join the family and attend the funeral, but now I am being turned away. I really do not know what to do,” he said as he walked away.

 

Two elderly women who were returning from the Engela district hospital had to wait for hours before they were allowed to enter Angola.

 

Immediately upon stepping on Angolan soil, the two women were tested, sanitised and then interrogated by seemingly uncompromising Angolan police officers.

 

“How long have you been in Namibia for? What were you doing there? Why are you returning only now? Do you know what COVID-19 is and do you know how to protect yourself?” were just some of the questions asked.

 

Meanwhile, the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are clearly visible at Oshikango.

 

Oshikango was the past few years seriously affected by the global economic downturn, but the outbreak of COVID-19 and the closure of the border made things worse for local businesses by cutting off their Angolan customers.

 

There is fear that many people would try to circumvent the rules by entering or exiting the country illegally, but Ohangwena police spokesperson Abner Kaume Itumba said that no such incident was reported so far.