OTJIWARONGO: The Namibian Police Force (NamPol) on Thursday issued an urgent order calling off the Red Flag Commemoration event which was set to take place at Okahandja this weekend, citing security reasons.
The Red Flag Commemoration was supposed to take place in Okahandja in the Otjozondjupa Region from Friday to Sunday.
A letter in Nampa’s possession which was signed by NamPol Inspector-General, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga states that the commemoration event was called off due to security reasons.
“Deploy your members (police force) as per your operation order and ensure that the event does not take place,” Ndeitunga stated in the letter addressed to NamPol’s Otjozondjupa Regional Deputy Commander, Deputy Commissioner Gerhard Uataurua Mavenjono.
The decision to call off the annual event follows a meeting on Tuesday by the police with the two rival Herero groups that were set to attend the commemoration this weekend to discuss security measures that would have had to be put in place to avoid possible clashes.
The main disagreement between the two groups is the location of the holy fire at the Red Flag Commando Grounds in Okahandja, which a faction of the Herero community under the instruction of Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako allegedly relocated to a place where it now faces the sunset.
The Maharero Royal House, supported by members of the Technical Committee of the OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu Council on the 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904), insists that the holy fire should face the sunrise (east), as it has done for the 88 years.
Mavenjono told Nampa in an interview on Thursday that the police do not want to see the security, peace and stability in the country being compromised, adding that threats made by the two rival groups forced them to cancel the commemoration.
On Tuesday, Otjozondjupa Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo commanded leaders of the two feuding factions to tell their people to behave and to maintain peace and stability.
Anghuwo said after the meeting with the two rival groups of the Maharero Royal House and Paramount Chief Riruako in Windhoek, he opted to apply maximum security or to cancel the event.
At the meeting with the police, the Maharero Royal House was led by Phanuel Kaapama, a descendant of that clan, and he was accompanied by representatives from the Kambazembi, Mureti, Vita, Zeraeua and Nguvauva (Kilus Nguvauva) royal houses.
The other group was reportedly led by Dr Hoze Riruako, the advisor to the OvaHerero Traditional Authority (OTA).
Anghuwo said although the police managed to bring together the two groups, they somehow failed to resolve the quarrel about who would perform traditional rituals during the event.
“Each group said it will perform its traditional rituals from its own holy fire,” the police commissioner said.
This means that the Maharero and the Riruako groups would have both conducted their rituals at the same place (Red Flag Commando Grounds) at about the same time.
The followers of the Maharero Royal House would have camped on the eastern side of the Commando, while the other group would have faced the west.
This resulted in the police deciding to cancel the commemoration; a decision which Ndeitunga said should be strictly complied to.
On Thursday at around 13h00 the Commando grounds were already cordoned off with red tape and guarded by armed police officers who forbade people from entering the grounds.
Hundreds of OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu people from all walks of life were set to converge upon Okahandja for the Red Flag Commemoration, where they honour their dead chief and heroes/heroines.