Refugee commissioner to get retirement benefits despite murder conviction

Eba Kandovazu

CONVICTED Refugees Commissiner in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Likius Valombola had applied for early retirement shortly before he was sentenced in December last year for the murder of student leader Helao Ndjaba, Windhoek Observer newspaper can reveal.

The 57-year-old Valombola served in the position for years and was sentenced to 14 years in the Windhoek High Court after he shot Ndjaba (25) in the head in Windhoek’s Ombili settlement in 2018.

Executive Director in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security Ettiene Maritz today confirmed that Valombola was on leave when he submitted the application for early retirement which was approved.

Maritz was responding to questions whether or not the former commissioner was fired when he got convicted in October last year. He also was not suspended following the murder allegations against him.

Ndjaba was shot twice and was in a comatose condition before he died days after the shooting. At the time of his death, he served on the executive of the Namibia National Students Organization (Nanso).

“We would like to point out that according to the Public Service Act, a staff member can only be fired after absconding from work for 30 consecutive days without a reason. In the case of Valombola, he was on vacation leave before he was sentenced. The ministry is currently in the process to fill his position as it is currently vacant.The recruitment process has started,” Maritz said.

Asked whether the position was advertised or if the ministry is headhunting a potential Refugee Commissioner, Margaret Kalo the ministry’s spokesperson explained that a request has been sent to the office of the Prime Minister to determine whether or not the position is crucial and whether or not it should be advertised..

Pressed about how the ministry is currently dealing with the refugee crisis in the country, Maritz says the country has not encountered any crisis, adding that ‘’the department of administration and refugee management continues to render the service unhampared”.

In December, thousands of Angolan immigrants residing in Etunda, Omusati are said to have returned to their country. They fled Angola as a result of drought and since their arrival in Namibia at least 18 Angolan infants, whose parents fled hunger, died in Namibia from malnutrition.

Maritz explained that although the group is often referred to as refugees, they are immigrants as they do not meet the requirements to be called refugees.

“A refugee is regarded as a person seeking asylum in Namibia before entering the country and they should report to the authority at the border that they are seeking asylum in Namibia. The application process for refugee status then commences at the Ministry.

The applicant is referred to as an asylum seeker until such a stage that the claim for fear or prosecution is examined and refugee status granted,” Maritz says.

According to him, people seek refugee status for various reasons such as fear of prosecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular group or a political party..

By Observer