7 February 2013

Namibia: Learner Takes Unexploded Ordnance to School

Oshakati — A learner allegedly put the lives of teachers and fellow learners at risk at a school in the Oshikoto Region this week when he showed up at school with a M26 handgrenade of South African origin.

The Grade 8 learner at Iipundi Senior Secondary School claimed that the handgrenade came from a mahangu field.

According to Oshikoto Police Regional Commander, Commissioner Anne-Marie Nainda, the handgrenade was found by an elderly woman while she was cultivating her mahangu field at a village near Omuthiya.

The woman allegedly told the boy to take the device to the police in order to identify what kind of object it was. "At some point the boy and other relatives tried to pull the safety pin, which is very dangerous. Luckily it did not go off. The M26 handgrenade is deadly, it can even kill more than 20 people," said Nainda.

According to a source at the school, the 20-year-old learner allegedly told the teachers that he had brought the explosive along to school so that he could hand it over to the police at a later stage. Presumably after school.

The source also claims that the spot where the learner had left the device was very close to the classrooms and it remained there until after 13h00. "He did not tell the teachers about the explosive, he just kept it next to the school until the afternoon when classes were over for the day. Later, we just heard police speaking through the loudspeakers telling us to open the classroom windows and vacate the school, while at the same time telling members of the community not to panic," said one source at the school.

According to Nainda, there are many unexploded ordnances at Omuthiya and the nearby areas since there used to be army bases there before independence. She said another deadly explosive, a 6mm motar bomb of Soviet origin was also found in that area during December last year, plus others.

Many more unexploded ordnances have been discovered in the area before, during ongoing mine clearing campaigns. "We always warn people during the campaigns not to touch the explosives and to rather alert the councillor's office or the police, but it seems not to be enough," said Nainda.

The regional commander has called on people in the area to be careful and to report suspicious objects to the authorities. All they have to do is mark off the area where the object is found and to report it to the police.

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