NDF getting a 'bad name'

17 July 2019 | Ministries

Following reports of altercations between the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and communal farmers at Farm Etiro in the Erongo Region, NDF acting chief, Martin Pinehas, has warned community members that trespassing on military premises is illegal and punishable by law.

Pinehas made these remarks during a media briefing at the NDF headquarters in Windhoek following recent reports of the alleged illegal occupation of Farm Etiro by communal farmers.

The acting chief said section 26 of the Defence Act 1 of 2002 prohibits and provides for punitive actions towards any member of the public who illegally trespasses on military premises.

He said farmlands acquired by the defence ministry are not meant for farming but for defence purposes, adding that as a result, media reported negatively about the issue at hand.

“This negative reporting is not only tarnishing the NDF but is also painting a wrong picture of the internal security situation,” said Pinehas.

He emphasised that subsection (2) of section 14 of the Defence Act empowers the minister of defence to, inter alia, acquire, hire, construct and maintain defence works, ranges, buildings, training areas and land required for defence purposes.

He further pointed out that due to a lack of training areas, the ministry, under which the NDF falls, had to resort to acquiring more land (including Farm Etiro) to fill that void.

“In the past, we allowed communal farmers to graze their animals in our training areas such as Osere-kari and Oshivelo, however, we have come to regret that decision,” he noted.

He further pointed out that the invasion of Farm Etiro started in March this year and as a result, the population of cattle in the farm swelled to over 1 000, with about 30 kraals.

“It was at that point that we decided to instruct them to stop trespassing on defence's property and remove their cattle,” he said.

Pinehas confirmed that farmers who had occupied the land have since removed all their cattle from the farm situated some 20 kilometres east of Karibib in Erongo Region.

According to the police's weekly crime report, five men, aged 24, 38, 43, 49 and 63, were allegedly assaulted by members of the Namibia Defence Force at Farm Etiro near Karibib last week, on Thursday morning. The police say the men were beaten up after they had refused to remove their cattle from the farm. Charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and malicious damage to property are being investigated.

NAMPA

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