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  • 6 Months Ago
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By Gavin Cooper

In the early evening of Saturday, 16 August 1975, the tranquility of Ovamboland was shattered by automatic gunfire. Ending as suddenly as it started, the occupants of a nondescript liquor store at Onamugundu emerged from the building to find the Chief Minister of the region, Filemon Elifas, on the veranda in a pool of blood, dying from two gunshot wounds from a PPSH-41 submachine gun. The South African government immediately blamed SWAPO for the murder. The Security Police initiated a dragnet across South West Africa, detaining hundreds of people, holding them under inhumane conditions and torturing them for days on end. As a result, thousands of people fled the territory into exile. The murder would also be used as a reason to escalate the Border War with the SA Defence Force attacking Angola to deprive PLAN of bases near the Ovambo border. What followed was a sequence of events that would influence South West Africa/Namibia’s history for decades to come. Only after international pressure on the SA government were six members of SWAPO eventually charged under the Terrorist Act to face the death penalty for their remote involvement in the killing. The lengthy trial, in which many of the State’s witnesses testified that the Security Police had tortured them, would see “unprecedented” gross irregularities by a biased judge whose verdict resulted in an international furore that further alienated the apartheid government of South Africa.

ISBN 9780620850667, Paperback, 512 pages with colour photography, Reach Publisher's Services

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