The Kangungu family is calling on good Samaritans to assist them with food that they can use as they wait for the burial day, despite assurances from the government to assist with funeral arrangements.
The family from Kayova Village in the Ndiyona Constituency is not able to hold the funeral of the 15 family members by themselves.
Godfried Kangungu, the grandfather in the Kangungu family, states that they survive from hand to mouth, relying primarily on his old-age pension money.
Kangungu further explains that in addition to the pension, they sell reeds, catch fish, or work in people's crop fields in exchange for money or food. He laments that poverty has deprived him of his prosperity.
"My heart is shattered. I don't even know how to react. All the doors to my house are closed. I cannot express my feelings. I wish this was a dream so that I could just wake up. They just went to get food, and they all perished. Even with the samples they went to get, how sure are we that it's the right mahangu that they gave to my grandchildren?"
Kangungu is now appealing to any kind-hearted individuals who can provide any form of assistance, particularly in acquiring coffins for his grandchildren, to ensure they receive a dignified burial.
"I solely rely on the old-age pension. However, I am unsure about the exact amount we will receive. The concern is whether I will be able to afford all the coffins needed for my children. None of my children can assist financially. I desperately request your help. Even as we are gathered here, we have nothing to offer. I am unable to obtain a bag of maize meal on credit; it would not be of much help either. I am left with nothing to offer those who are assisting me and comforting my family."
Kangungu had nine children and 29 grandchildren.
Out of the 15 who have passed away, seven were girls and eight were boys. The youngest among them was only two years old.
Grandmother Laurentia Muduva is still in disbelief about what has happened to her family.
"The children went to sell reeds to get mahangu. The mahangu was divided into separate bags, and each child went to different homesteads. At each homestead, they pounded their own mahangu and had their meal. Fortunately, the two children who came to visit me did not eat the food. They only came to find others in distress. There is no peace in this situation. In all my years since birth, I have never witnessed such a tragedy."
Village headman Herman Katura explains that, due to poverty, people in the community can only afford to eat leftovers used for traditional brews.
He urgently appeals to the government to reinstate drought relief measures.
"The government should expedite the reinstatement of drought relief as soon as possible. Many people are at risk of perishing because they can only afford to consume whatever is within their means. This is why you see people selling reeds in exchange for maize meal. As human beings, we have a basic need for food. If there was drought relief available, people would not have to settle for whatever was offered. It is crucial that the government speed up the process to alleviate this dire situation. Hunger is just hunger. Let's not say it's only the San people that are hungry; everyone can be hungry. Not because one has harvested, you think everyone has food. Register everyone for drought relief, be it black or San."
Out of the 20 individuals affected, 16 have died, while four remain in critical condition.
According to Jean Kalala Kabangu, the superintendent at Rundu State Hospital, samples have been sent to South Africa to determine the contents of the food.
They anticipate receiving the results within 72 hours.