As Namibia commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Old Location massacre, a new personality has emerged to claim he was a main protagonist in the turn of events that led to the 10th December 1959 massacre – complementing the legacy of celebrated struggle stalwart Rosa Kakurukaze Mungunda.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer this week, Moses Kavetjimo Katuuo has it that he is the one who set the police van alight – an incident that is said to have sparked the attack on the people at the hands of the apartheid regime. The celebrated and heroic Mungunda succumbed to a single gunshot on that fateful day.
Since her tragic demise, the narrative has been that she was shot by the apartheid police while setting a police van ablaze. This is the story recounted and documented in current history books as well as in the founding president Sam Nujoma’s autobiography – Where Others Waivered – in which the Founding President and Father of the Namibian nation recounts the shooting of Mungunda.
Speaking to this newspaper from a hospital bed this week, the aging Katuuo is now making a claim that Mungunda did not set the vehicle ablaze, but was in fact fleeing for her life. He says he set the blaze that day.
“I am the one who burned that vehicle down. Ms Mungunda was actually fleeing for her life having escaped from the chaos that had erupted in a nearby drinking place,” Katuuo alleged.
According to Katuuo, the entire area which was crowded by protesters erupted in total pandemonium when police officers started shooting randomly to scare the masses away. The crowd, which was protesting against the relocation from the Old location to Katutura refused to disperse. Instead, the crowd started throwing stones in the direction of the police.
“It was in midst of this confusion that I noticed that one of the cars’ windows was open. I stealthily fetched an open container with petrol from the house of one Ngunovandu McLeod and threw it into the car through the window. I than ran off, but returned a moment later, lit a match and threw it into the vehicle. It caught fire instantly,” Katuuo related.
It was around this time, according to Katuuo, that the shooting became intense. It is also around this time that the late Mungunda stormed out of the ‘beer hall’ fleeing in the direction in the direction of the burning vehicle.
, “My friends and I tried to stop her in her tracks but were too late. She was caught by one of the bullets,” Katuuo claimed. According to Katuuo, he has no qualms about the celebration of Mungunda’s life and the role of women in the struggle, but he says that it is imperative that his version of the truth is also told.
When asked why Katuuo waited for so many decades before coming out with his so-called ‘truth,’ he claimed without details or evidence, that he made several attempts in the past to shed light on the story but to no avail.
“The matter was brought to the attention of former parliamentarian Brave Tjizera, who took further – to the two previous presidents – but the issue was shoved under the carpet and nothing came off it. I am not trying to cast a shadow over Mungunda’s legacy, but to ensure that history is recorded and re-counted as [I believe],” Katuuo said.
His story was verbally corroborated by Kaizeri Stanley – a personal friend and alleged eyewitness. Stanley claims that he was instrumental in orchestrating, former president Nujoma’s departure from Namibia, by introducing the former president and Chief Hosea Kutako to his biological brother, Ludwig Stanley. Regarding the old location saga, Stanley maintained that this piece of history is distorted [in his view].
“I was there, when it happened. We were Swanu activists and I witnessed how Katuuo set that car alight. I also witnessed Kakurukaze’s killing. This is not hearsay,” Stanley insisted.
According to Stanley, Moses informed him that there was a huge gathering at a municipal building and they joined the group.
“There were close to ten white policemen with guns who were ordering the people to leave and upon joining the group we started working on how we were going to disarm these members of the apartheid police force. Plans to burn down a service station, gas storage, and the hall were hatched but before we could set them in motion, the chaos began,” Stanley added that it was during this pandemonium that he supposedly spotted Katuuo setting the car ablaze.
Former Swanu president Dr Rihupisa Kandando who does not claim to have witnessed Katuuo’s version of events is of the opinion that there is a gap of knowledge within sections of the communities in so far as the 10th December 1959 massacre is concerned.
“This gap would primarily be attributed to official versions that were given by the racist Pretoria regime and which became part of Namibia’s history during the colonial occupation, the distortion of history to suit myopic and petty party political agendas and ‘hero worshipping’ of individuals who were not at the scene.”
The end result of the above, according to Kandando is a generation that, in his opinion, may hold a distorted version of Namibian history – “a situation which, if not arrested now, will be a recipe for disaster towards our future succeeding generations.”