Andrew Kathindi

Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Vekuii Rukoro, has revealed that they will now seek recourse at the United Nations and the African Union for justice in the matter regarding the genocide that was committed by Germany between 1904 and 1908.

On Monday 7 June, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a petition by the Nama and Ovaherero leaders, which sought to restart a lawsuit for damages against Germany for the genocide. “In light of the latest diplomatic and legal developments, we shall now escalate our campaign at the diplomatic front by ensuring that the United Nations, the African Union, key world Powers and African governments are sensitized with view to declare that what happened to our ancestors pursuant to Von Throtha and Leutwein’s Extermination orders, was Genocide as understood by the world community,” said Rukoro.

Last September the US Court of Appeals dismissed the traditional leaders’ case brought after they unsuccessfully attempted to sue the German government for reparations. The leaders of the affected communities said that they will now also actively consider alternative legal options, including but not limited to approaching other legal jurisdictions both local and international including Germany.

“Germany is a war criminal unless it is prepared to enter into meaningful negotiations with the true and legitimate leaders of the victim communities and not selectively hand-picked royal House Chiefs’ representatives.” The Ovaherero and Nama leaders have rejected an agreement between the German and Namibian governments in which Germany has promised to make an official apology for the genocide in Parliament, and also offered Euro 1.1 billion in development projects over the course of 30 years.

“We reiterate our total unreserved rejection of the racist and neo-colonialist so-called ‘reconciliation’ and ‘reconstruction’ agreement between the German and Namibian government with the contempt it deserves,” said Rukoro.

The US Supreme court’s decision to not hear an appeal by the traditional leaders of the communities affected by the genocide brings an end to three years of appeal at the United States courts by the Ovaherero and Nama traditional leaders for reparations from Germany. The first case in the US began in July 2018.

US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain had in 2019 dismissed the lawsuit by the Ovaherero and Nama traditional authorities.

Rukoro previously told Windhoek Observer that the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) has forked out millions in legal fees over the past 20 years in their legal fight to compel Germany to pay reparations, though he could not divulge the exact figure.

Lawyer Uno Katjipuka told Windhoek Observer that “Legal costs are high and if they are litigating in the US you have the exchange rate on top of that. Considering how long they have been at it (a few years at least) ten million (NAD) is very easily possible.”

Historians have stated that around 100,000 people from the Ovaherero communities and 10,000 from the Nama were killed by German forces during their brutal colonial occupation of (then) South West Africa.