'Invaders' demand land, new cattle

The remaining Herero farmers in the San communal area say they are being ignored by the government and are not recognised as Namibians.

04 June 2018 | Government

Seven remaining Gam farmers and their families, who illegally invaded the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in April 2009, have been ordered by the High Court to leave the conservancy and the Nyae Nyae community forest area.

Two of the farmers – Tjizera Kavenzenji and a certain N. Ngombe – were also ordered to stop unlawful grazing of their cattle in these areas and to desist from granting permission to any other person to occupy Nyae Nyae.

Moreover, the Namibian police were ordered to expedite and finalise a police investigation into criminal charges laid under the Forestry Act and the Communal Land Reform Act, while the Directorate of Forestry was directed to take all necessary steps to confiscate all remaining stray animals.

The court order was made on 28 May after a protracted battle by the Ju/'Hoansi traditional authority and its chief Tsamkxao ‡Oma to have the Gam farmers removed from Nyae Nyae.

In his founding affidavit ‡Oma said the Gam farmers let their cattle graze anywhere they like, whether it is in sensitive zoned areas, eco-tourism areas or hunting and crop-farming areas. He said they have no regard for the interests of the local community.



Gam farmers make demands

The seven respondents – Kavezenji, Ngombe, Tjitindi Vazapo, Kaapuhu Majuva, Kauheva Vetiaje, Murambi Ndjandereeko and Mutiro Dikuwa - are now pleading for “settlement – not resettlement”.

They are part of the Ovaherero families who were repatriated from Botswana where their ancestors had fled to during the German-Herero war from 1904 to 1908 and were relocated in Gam in 1996.

“We are not people from Botswana; we are Namibians who have returned home. Now we have nowhere to go,” Vazapo said on behalf of the group during a recent visit to Windhoek.

They say they did not invade the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, but merely returned home to where some of their ancestors were buried, claiming that the area was a battleground during the German-Herero war.

The farmers say they also want a chance to restock their herds after many of their cattle were confiscated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

They were paid N$3 262 per head when the cattle were confiscated. However, they say this is a far cry from the “sentimental value” they attach to these animals.

“These cattle have names; they come with a story of their own. That value is not reflected in the market price we were paid out at the time,” Vazapo said.

In April this year they had to stave off an effort by the authorities to confiscate about 60 of the remaining 120 cattle they say are left in the Nyae Nyae area.

The farmers say they want the government to recognise them as Namibians, complaining that they have been ignored, were never fully integrated and their children have no legal rights in Namibia.

They further demand war veteran status and a piece of land on which to settle. They say a committee established by President Hage Geingob recently to look into their plight has yet to arrange any meeting with them.



CATHERINE SASMAN

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