Case of murder registered
THERE is a valid reason why the San community is labelled as ‘marginalised’ and this marginalisation was brought into sharp focus this year when Mateus Haikondo was badly assaulted, admitted to the hospital, died and was buried.
Things happened in that particular order, but in slow motion over six months.
Haikondo, a resident of Onane village in the Ohangwena Region in his early 50s, was found unconscious in a house he was visiting at Omauni in April. There were indications that he was assaulted by unknown assailants.
He was rushed to the Okongo hospital where his helpers wrongly identified him as Mafufu Ya Mafufu. That was the name eventually written on his new health passport and hospital file when he was transferred to the Oshakati intermediate hospital, making it difficult for family and friends to trace him.
“Haikondo has been on my cattle post, east of Okongo, since 1990. In fact, I am the guardian of six of his nine children. That is why when I learned that he was hospitalised I started looking for him, first at Okongo and then at Oshakati. However, his name could not be found on any hospital register,” said Djeimo Popyeinawa, the headman of Engela village.
He noted that when he eventually traced Haikondo in an Oshakati hospital ward in June, he also discovered that he was admitted under the name Mafufu Ya Mafufu.
Mafufu was Haikondo’s father’s little known nickname.
Popyeinawa said that he noticed that Haikondo’s head and arms were bandaged, what he interpreted as an indication that he was assaulted.
“Nurses informed me that they considered Haikondo, who was still in a coma, as ‘somebody from Okongo who has no known relatives’,” he said.
Surprisingly, Haikondo was mysteriously transferred back to the Okongo hospital while still in a coma, but Popyeinawa intervened and successfully lobbied hospital authorities to rather transfer Haikondo to the Engela district hospital which was closer to the traditional homestead where most of Haikondo’s children reside.
Things, however, took a dramatic turn when Haikondo died in July and Popyeinawa approached the Okongo Constituency Office for possible assistance with his burial as a member of the marginalised San community.
“Okongo Councillor Fanuel Ndadi reacted angrily, accusing me of taking his San people to my village without informing him, only to contact him after someone has died. He practically commandeered me to go to his office and to immediately report the matter to the police. I was shocked,” said Popyeinawa.
A case of murder was registered and Haikondo’s body was removed from the Engela hospital mortuary and taken to Okongo police morgue for an autopsy.
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Abner Kaume Itumba could not shed light on any progress made so far, nor whether any suspects have been arrested.
Popyeinawa was interrogated by detectives.
“Looking at the aggressive way they interviewed me, it was clear to me that they came armed with wrong information, viewing me as a possible murder suspect, and I think I know who gave them such wrong information. I am very disappointed to be treated like that after all the efforts I made to trace Haikondo and transporting his relatives to visit him at Oshakati and Engela hospitals using my own resources,” said Popyeinawa.
After a silence of about three months, Haikondo was finally buried at his home village of Onane on 5 October with the assistance from the Office of Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba.
This was confirmed by the Ohangwena regional officer for the Marginalised Communities, Thomas Puleinge.
He said his office does not only assist the impoverished San community bury their loved ones, but also provides them with humanitarian aid. “We also transport their children to and from distant hostels and also help them build decent houses,” he said.
But Popyeinawa is not happy that the funeral was rushed.
“I considered late Haikondo as a member of my extended family and I had an ox ready to be slaughtered on the day of his burial, but I was not informed about the funeral arrangements. Even his children who live with me at Engela were not informed and did not attend their own father’s funeral. This is inhuman,” he said.
Okongo constituency councillor Ndadi could not be reached for comment.