Namibia: San Family Languishes in Abject Poverty

Situated in the eastern part of Oshikoto is Nehale Lya Mpingana, one of 11 constituencies of the region named after Nehale Lya Mpingana, one of Namibia's national heroes.

A vast area faced with many challenges such as a lack of potable water, roads, communication network coverage, and many other basic services.

The constituency borders the Guinas, Omuthiyagwiipundi, Eengodi and Okankolo constituencies.

In a village called Oshana sha Temba lives Sackaria Haule and his wife, Tressia Kamati.

They roil in abject poverty.

To compound their struggles, both Haule and Kamati are now visually impaired due to old age, and this makes it very difficult for Victoria Haule, their last-born and caretaker.

The family depends on wild fruits, handouts from the constituency office and Good Samaritans.

Meanwhile, constituency councillor Josef Shilongo said he was aware of their deplorable living conditions, but that his office from time to time renders food assistance.

"This is not the only family that is affected or finding themselves in such an undesirable condition. Therefore, my plan as a new councillor has been to conduct research and compile the names of all individuals or households so that we can know what form of assistance can be rendered to each," he added.

Shilongo was elected as councillor during last year's regional and local authority elections.

"We used to depend on hunting, but now it is no more the same because my father is visually impaired and is too old to hunt. Wild animals have also migrated to faraway places because there are many people who settled here now. Well-off people come here and fence off land, and they do not want us San people to go and collect fruits inside their farms," Victoria narrated their daily sufferings.

"If you step foot in there, you will be followed to your house. They have really made our lives difficult because they come here shooting wild animals with guns, and that forces the wild animals to migrate far to live peacefully," she continued.

Asked where they sleep and how they are surviving in this cold, Victoria said the councillor had through the constituency office erected a tent for their shelter during the rainy season, and that is where they used to sleep.

"We have, however, moved out of the tent now, and we are sleeping around the fire because it is too cold since we don't have blankets," she stated.

"To be precise, my office provides bags of maize meal to the Haule family each month. We have food, but have to stretch it so that it's not depleted at once. The last time we erected a tent at their house as a temporary measure, while we are looking at a long- term solution," countered Shilongo.

Haule, now 62 years old, said although he has all the documents, he still does not receive the pension grant.

"They do not like me. They just want to help those people who are living better lives already, and not us who really need help", he lamented.

Haule's documents show that he obtained his birth certificate in November 2016, and his identity card was issued in March 2017. His wife and daughter are yet to get identity documents as they only applied in November 2020.

*Simon Nghipunya is an employee of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in the Oshikoto region.

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