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Pressure group accuses environment ministryof covering up ‘murder’ of fisherman

Written by on April 30, 2024

The Namibian Lives Matter Movement (NLMM) claims the environment ministry is protecting anti-poaching unit officials who allegedly murdered Lubinda Samupwa (24) in the Nkasa Rupara Park in the Zambezi region. ]

The NLMM held a demonstration with Sangwali community members on Sunday.

Environment, forestry and tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda in a statement on Tuesday denied that any foul play ocurred and said the anti-poaching unit was not responsible for Samupwa’s death.

Sampuwa and two of his friends were recently caught fishing illegally in the park by the ministry’s Anti-poaching Unit officials.

According to the two survivors, when they saw the officials, Samupwa and a friend jumped into the water to hide after Anti-poaching Unit officials fired warning shots in their direction.

Two men surrendered, while Samupwa reportedly remained in the water, which they reported to the Anti-Poaching unit officials, but instead of looking for him, they went to the police station.

Samupwa’s body was found in shallow water two days later.

Numerous allegations of foul play surrounding Samupwa’s death have been raised by family members and the community, who allege that Samupwa was shot and killed by the officials.

“Upon tracing the suspects, our officials fired warning shots in the air in attempts to stop them, as the suspects started to run away,” said Muyunda.

“In this process, three suspects were apprehended, while the fourth suspect escaped and could only be seen jumping into the Linyanti River.

“The post-mortem conducted showed that there were no bullet fragments found in the body. It was found that he drowned.”

NLMM and community members demonstrated to express their grievances following Samupwa’s death and the general conduct of Anti-poaching Unit officials.

NLMM secretary general Sylvester Kabajani noted in the petition that this was not the first time anti-poaching officials have taken the law into their own hands when apprehending suspects and claimed the statement by the environment ministry was not truthful.

“The innocent young men were three and not four, as they alluded. It is on record that the anti-poaching officials took almost three days before informing the police of this crime, as they were busy covering up their tracks on the murder of Samupwa.

“The environment ministry chose to believe the accounts of their officials without even hearing the sides of the two friends that were with Samupwa.”

Kabajani demanded that the Namibian Police send an independent forensic team and Serious Crimes Unit to investigate Samupwa’s death.

Muyunda responded to the NLMM’s allegations, noting that the government has no basis to cover up a crime as alleged.

“We chose to wait for the police investigations to be completed for us to issue a statement, because we did not want it to look like we were interfering with police work. There is no way you can take the words of the suspects over the relevant authorities.

“We noticed that this unfortunate situation is being used to incite people against authorities and the systems of the protected areas. We want to caution our people not to be used by people seeking political relevance,” he said.

Last week, Nongozi district headman and the deceased’s uncle Austin Samupwa told The Namibian if the officials had nothing to hide, they would have searched for the deceased.

He questioned how the rescue of a person was deemed less important than taking the apprehended fishermen to the police station.

“It was only after two days that the police decided to react and go search for him. This was only because the family was forcing them, and even then, they did not want the family members to go help with the search.

“Upon finding the body, they did not want the family to touch his body. They were only shown the face after threatening to break down doors to see the body.”

He said the deceased’s body was so badly decomposed when he was found that his cause of death could not be determined.

“What’s even more questionable is how a grown man can drown in shallow water. Which human would opt to drown instead of coming out of the water upon the instruction of the authorities?

“There was really too much negligence from both the Anti-poaching Unit officials and the police. The autopsy does not represent the facts on the ground. If this is left just like that, then we will continue to lose young lives for no good reason. Therefore, we want an independent investigation into the death of my nephew,” he said.

The post Pressure group accuses environment ministryof covering up ‘murder’ of fisherman appeared first on The Namibian.

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