Topnaar chief laid to rest

The late Seth Kooitjie has been described as a visionary leader who did everything possible to improve the lives of his people.

25 February 2019 | Local News

Leandrea Louw - The late Topnaar chief Seth Madawab Kooitjie (65) was laid to rest at Soutrivier, about 125 km from Walvis Bay, last week Saturday.

Hundreds of mourners made the journey to Kooitjie’s final resting place to pay their last respects.

The chief passed away on 24 January due to an asthma attack en route to the hospital. He served as the Topnaar traditional authority chief for 39 years, succeeding his father, Esau Sanaseb Kooitjie, in 1980. Back then he was only 27 years old.

Various speakers from the traditional authorities and local ministries described him as a loyal, caring and visionary leader. He was also called an economic freedom fighter for his people, always looking for ways to improve the conditions the Topnaar people were living in.

Chief Kooitjie was one of the founding members of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) and served as the chairperson until his untimely death. He was also the inaugural chairman of the Atlantic Sea Products Group of Companies and during his leadership Atlantic Sea Products invested in two fishing vessels, the MVF Dantago and MVF Hurinus, and an orange roughy fish processing factory, Atlantic Seafood Processors.

During a memorial service on Thursday night, and again at the funeral, the same message prevailed - that the Nama people should unite and choose a successor that will continue his legacy.

Bernard Esau, minister of fisheries and marine resources, described the late chief as a gentle soul who would do anything to improve the lives of those around him.

“Through his shareholding in Atlantic Sea Products he was driving the empowerment of his people, and making sure they were not left out to benefit from the fishing sector. We lost a friend and a visionary leader. Let us uphold the standards and the principles he stood for. Let us all be united.”

Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, minister of education, arts and culture, said the late chief was a strict, caring, honest and hardworking leader.

“He stood up for his people and was always aggressive and angry at the right time for the right reasons. He would rather empower others than himself.”

She reiterated that the Chief left unfinished projects and the Topnaar clan needs a visionary and strong leader to pick up from where he left off.

Hanse-Himarwa advised the clan members not to rush in trying to find a new leader but rather take time and follow the correct procedures.

Kooitjie is survived by his wife of 43 years, Diane Kooitjie, three children, Claudia, Len and Luciano, as well as six grandchildren.

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