EXACTLY 30 years after the war, explosive remnants of that war are still dangerously lurking in the bushes and under the ground in the northern regions that were the epicentre of Namibia’s 23-year war.
Unexploded mortar shells and machinegun ammunition were discovered and reported to the Namibian police in the Ohangwena Region since last week.
Police spokesperson Kaume Itumba said that a resident of the Omhito village in the Oshikunde constituency discovered a mortar shell protruding in his mahangu field last Friday.
He took it to a “safe place”, collected firewood and made fire to destroy it.
His action almost ended in a tragedy.
The shell’s onboard propellant charge went off, shooting the shell into the air which then landed about three metres from where he was hiding.
Fortunately the bomb did not explode and was later destroyed by explosive experts of the Namibian police.
That same day, another bomb was discovered by children in the bushes near the Eenhana town.
The kids picked up the “toy” and took it home in the Donker location.
However, an adult immediately sensed the danger, grabbed the bomb, put it a plastic carry bag and took it to the nearby police station, an action described by the police as very dangerous in itself.
In yet another incident earlier this week, a villager turned up at the police precinct in the Ondwi Village in the Ondobe constituency carrying a belt of machinegun ammunition which he allegedly picked up in the bush near his house.
Clearly, the well-known slogan of the Namibian Police – “Don’t touch it Report it” – is being ignored by residents.
“This is a persistent problem,” said Itumba, “because people continue to pick up unknown objects despite our repeated warnings. Our advice continues to be: just mark the place where the unknown object is and immediately inform the police because carrying unexploded ordnance is carrying death.”
In November last year, a bomb was sold to a scrap yard in the Helao Nafidi town.
In yet another incident last year a bomb was found among loose metals collected by children at a village near Oshikango.