By Confidente Reporter
A group of NDF soldiers who were injured in the line of duty and lost limbs during the Caprivi secession attempts when UNITA bandits in collaboration with secessionists attacked citizens in the Kavango and Zambezi regions nearly 16 years ago, accused Government of unfairly assessing their disabilities thus paying them paltry compensation allowances.
The disgruntled soldiers said that although they were individually assessed by their respective doctors, the results were overlooked. They were subsequently assessed by a doctor hired by NDF who evaluated their injuries at 45 percent for both minor and more serious injuries.
The soldiers complained that while some of their colleagues only lost a finger each, they were equally assessed as those that lost a leg or an arm and each compensated a little over N$80 000 for their misfortune. Government according to documents at the time released N$250 000 for disability compensation.
“It is embarrassing and heartbreaking after everything we have been through for our country. How is it possible that someone that lost a finger is equally remunerated as the one that lost a leg or an arm? It doesn’t make sense. We also question why assessments by our doctors were disregarded? Does this mean that they did it deliberately so as to pay us a little and misuse the rest? These are questions that have not been answered over 16 years and it is frustrating,” one of the soldiers said on condition of anonymity.
The soldiers further said that upon constant enquiries into the matter, their assessments were changed to 50 percent from 45 percent and paid an extra N$9 375. “This just shows how our leaders were not being truthful from the beginning.”
At the time, the soldiers said that although Government had not approved a compensation policy to remunerate those injured in the line of duty within the country, they were reportedly told that they would be compensated between N$100 000 to N$300 000.
In a bid to silence them, the soldiers said that NDF deliberately labelled some victims as mentally unstable although no psychological tests were carried out which resulted in some members reportedly losing their jobs. Letters with the heading, ‘Release of long illness and mental disorder members to their immediate families’ in Confidente’s possession, were reportedly given to those labelled troublesome.
“This document serves to confirm that the below named NDF member who is under the command of ***** has been officially released to go and stay home under the supervision of the immediate family members while waiting to be called for the Medical Board,” part of the letter reads.
The soldiers also said that some of their colleagues are alienated after they were sent to army bases across the country where they are unable to follow up their plight. “They dumped some members at army bases where they are stuck in wheelchairs, getting a salary and basic goods so as to keep them silent. This is what we are going through because we asked about what should be given to us for our services.”
According to the soldiers, none of the members that have been injured in their line of duty have been promoted adding that the disability benefits they get have not increased over the years; which is at between N$150 and N$350.
Efforts to get comment from NDF proved futile since September 19 with the public relations office saying that relevant departments would look into the matter for answers. However, a letter by the ministry in 2009 highlighted that the matter was being looked at.
“The army have participated in a number of combat operations in the past resulted in some individual members’ sustained injuries or killed while executing their noble duties and in some cases no compensation was accorded to those who fall victim (sic).
“…We are aware and understand the pains and sufferings of our members that they have gone through and urged them to be more patient as the process of attending to their plight is underway.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015