Namibia
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Former Air Namibia employees still living a daily nightmare

At the time of Air Namibia’s liquidation in 2021, senior cabin control officer Renier Bougard had dedicated 23 years of his life to the company. Today, he and his family are still living with the devastating impact of the national carrier closing its doors.

In a powerful display of frustration and determination, he led former Air Namibia employees to the steps of the National Assembly to deliver a second petition recently.

The petition was handed over to the secretary of the National Assembly, Lydia Kandetu, and demanded justice after the incomplete payment of former employees’ severance packages.

The group say they are now trapped within a merciless system that has let them down. This despite already submitting a petition to the National Assembly in November last year, and receiving no response or updates.

Bougard voiced his anguish and reminded his colleagues of the immense injustice they continue to face.

Standing among a crowd of those equally affected, Bougard narrated the devastating impact of the airline’s collapse on his personal life.

“This has left me unemployed for the past three years, and in this current economic climate, finding employment, especially for a 50-year-old man, is a daunting task,” Bougard said.

The aftermath of the retrenchment has also taken a significant toll on Bougard’s family, with the burden of major debts, including car payments, having become a constant struggle that exacerbates their already dire circumstances.

The loss of the family’s only breadwinner has also stripped away their access to essential benefits like medical aid, leaving them vulnerable and uncertain about the future.

“For them, they lost the only breadwinner in the house, and we lost our medical aid cover and our futures,” he said, his words heavy with the weight of the hardships his family has endured.

Bougard’s plight is by no means an isolated incident, however, with numerous former Air Namibia employees sharing in his uncertainty and constant distress, equally grappling with unemployment and an alarming scarcity of opportunities.

Dan Shipanga, who is another victim of the airline’s liquidation, revealed the painful personal toll the retrenchment has taken on him.
“I lost not only my dignity but also my regular income,” Shipanga admitted with a heavy heart.

The emotional, psychological, and economic impacts have been devastating, leaving him unable to support his family.

“I feel deeply disrespected, and my rights have been violated by those responsible for Air Namibia’s demise,” he said.

The repercussions of the state-owned airline’s liquidation extend far beyond the immediate impact on individuals’ lives, however, with Shipanga’s childrens’ futures hanging in the balance after he was forced to cancel important policies, including study plans for their education.

In a desperate attempt to weather the storm, he was forced to abandon investments and sell personal property, after the loss of income made it difficult to survive.

Meanwhile, Kandetu assured the group that the matter would be promptly addressed in the National Assembly.

Until then, Bougard says he and his former colleagues will continue to fight for their rights, for their families, and for a brighter future that does not turn its back on those left to endure the harsh winds of uncertainty.

The former employees are owed varying amounts in severance packages, with Bougard saying he is due N$128 000 and Shipanga asserting that N$160 000 is still owed to him.