…Luiperdsvalley base at centre of controversy
By John Tuerijawma
THE Namibia Pistol Association (NPA) has accused the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) of victimisation after its shooting ranges in the capital were expropriated a few years ago. NPA Chairman Michael Jaeger said the Association’s shooting ranges near the Luiperdsvalley Military Base were taken away by the NDF, and by doing so the immense funds that were invested in the athletes to prepare for all the upcoming international events were lost. Jaeger was responding to questions by this publication this week on what plans the national shooting federation has in place in lieu of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He said as a result of the expropriation the Association’s was and is still left with no international standard sports facilities as they had at Luiperdsvalley. The Luiperdsvalley Base is located next to Klein Kuppe suburb. Jaeger said due to the NDF’s expropriation of their shooting ranges, the NPA was forced to shelve its programme to scout for new talent and was now concentrating on securing new facilities for the shooting sport. He said shooting as a sport discipline in Namibia has proven itself and with the right facilities Namibian shooters can bring medals to the country. NDF Acting Head of Public Relations Lieutenant Colonel Petrus Shilumbu said the position of the Ministry of Defence regarding the shooting range was that all infrastructure that belonged to the South African Defence Force (SADF) were handed over to the NDF at Independence in 1990, and that the Luiperdsvalley shooting range is registered under the Ministry. The NDF spokesperson said the range was gazetted in 1995 (Act No. 193) as a military restricted area in terms of section 78 of the Defence Act of 2002 (Act No. 1 of 2002) section 14 (a) and (c) as amended. “The clubs used to obtain permissions from the NDF in the past but as time went by they took everything for granted, and sometimes certain clubs decided to go shoot even in the night which undermined the security of the proclaimed military area. In 2016, the NDF suspended the use of the range by all civilian shooting clubs,” said Lieutenant Colonel Shilumbu. Shilumbu said the pistol association had an arrangement with the SADF prior to independence, to utilise the shooting range Jaeger dismissed the NDF’s statement that the Luiperdsvalley shooting range belonged to it, arguing that the City of Windhoek was the rightful owner. He said the only facility belonging to the NDF was the long shooting range and not the pistol range. “We are not a security threat and we do have an agreement with the NDF on the clay range. The pistol range is the viable range, but now we cannot host Olympic certified events there anymore,” said Jaeger. Shooting is certainly not a cheap sport, but the NPA chairman said that most shooting codes do assist newcomers financially by means of equipment if potential is spotted. “The association will need a few thousand dollars to groom potential shooters but once that is done we do create good sport shooters,” stressed Jaeger. Due to the unavailability of a proper shooting range and funds for major competitions for Namibian shooters, most local shooters now opt to compete in the annual South African nationals. All other important competitions, specifically the Olympic qualifying events like the African championships, clubs are required to recommend athletes to participate. Namibia’s competitiveness in shooting has taken a dive and that regionally only South Africa is to be reckoned with. “Other than Gaby Ahrens, the Olympic Pistol Shooters, specifically Friedhelm Sack and Andre Malherbe, have represented Namibia since as early as 1996 at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games,” said Jaeger. Sack claimed 8th place in the 1996 Olympics Games in the Air Pistol routine and managed a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia. Both Sack and Andre Malherbe won bronze medals in the team event at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
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