DaFonsech loses N$6.8m land fight

Home National DaFonsech loses N$6.8m land fight
DaFonsech loses N$6.8m land fight

Well-known police chief inspector, Christina van Dunem DaFonsech Shikongo was dealt a blow by the High Court on Friday when she lost a case in which she was fighting to keep a piece of land that she inherited after her father’s passing. 

The land measuring 4.9 hectares is worth N$6.8 million and is situated close to the main road in Omafo township, Helao Nafidi, Ohangwena region.

On Friday, Windhoek High Court judge Claudia Claasen dismissed Shikongo’s suit with cost, citing that she failed to make a case for her claims to the disputed land.

She said although it was not disputed that DaFonsech Shikongo’s father, Joao Manuel DaFonsech, lived on the land and ploughed it, there is no evidence indicating that he acquired customary land rights.

“The bottom line is that the plaintiff’s late father has not legitimised a title to a customary law right, not under the colonial regime nor under the current dispensation which came in force while he was still alive,” said Claasen.

In her suit against the Helao Nafidi Town Council, Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, Oukwanyama Traditional Authority, and the government, DaFonsech Shikongo claims her father was allocated customary land rights in July 1989 by the headman of Omafo village, Gabriel Katamba.

After he died in December 2010, the land rights were passed on to her by inheritance.

In 2006, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development proclaimed Engela/Omafo as township land. Before that, the Helao Nafidi Town Council took over the land and sold portions of it. 

But in April last year, the Helao Nafidi Town Council invited DaFonsech Shikongo to a meeting to indicate her land boundaries for the town council to prepare the necessary publications and quotations for the required advertisements.

Subsequently, in May 2021, a meeting was held and conducted by the Council of Village Headmen and was attended by the church which also claim ownership rights. The meeting concluded that DaFonsech Shikongo is the rightful owner of the said land.

As a result, she wanted a court order declaring that the town council’s expropriation of her land was unconstitutional, unlawful, and therefore null and void. 

Furthermore, the court must order the restoration of her rights to the land or alternatively pay N$6 780 000.

The church, however, disputes DaFonsech Shikongo’s claim to the land. It claims the land was originally owned by the Rhenish Missionary (German Church). They occupied the land when they arrived in the country in 1907 and used it as a church mission station. 

During the war of Ovakwanyama and Germany, the Rhenish missionary left then South West Africa (now Namibia) and handed over the land to the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM). 

FELM then handed over the land to the Lutheran Church in Namibia in 1957. 

In court documents, the church said the Lutheran Church in Namibia took peaceful and undisturbed possession of the land and has enjoyed such possession since 1957 to date.

It claims DaFonsech Shikongo’s father was merely allowed to set up his small residential dwelling on a small portion of the edge of the said land because he was a trader and the particular land was near the local supermarket in Omafo. 

It further stated that her father used to sell his goods outside the local supermarket in Omafo, and it was thus convenient for him to stay on the church’s land. 

They said it was incorrect that her father was allocated the land.

The town council denied that DaFonsech Shikongo’s father acquired customary land rights. They argued that DaFonsech Shikongo failed to identify or provide a description of the land in question.

The town council went on to deny allegations that it dispossessed or expropriated land from DaFonsech Shikongo and contended that it was not liable to restore possession of any land nor compensate her. 

In the suit, DaFonsech Shikongo was represented by Ileni Selma Gebhardt while Tuhafeni Muhongo, Appolos Shimakeleni and Silas-Kishi Shakumu were for the church and town council.