A northern man, who fenced off large tracts of land meant for communal grazing in the Oshikoto region, has lost a legal battle against the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) after the High Court dismissed his application to remain on the property.
The Windhoek High Court dismissed with cost Jonas Shiningeni’s application last week to have OTA restore the fence over farm Oshatotwa situated at Elavi village in Onalusheshete traditional district that was destroyed by community members last year as per directives from the traditional authority.
In his affidavit, Shiningeni said he was allocated the piece of land in 2006 after applying for it through the traditional authority for grazing purposes.
He, however, did not have funds to pay for the allocation at the time.
Shiningeni later said he acquired funds in October 2015 and was granted a grazing permit that same year. He then erected a fence around the land.
However, the fence was removed by the community in November 2019, reportedly on the instruction of the traditional authority.
In December 2020, Shiningeni said he held a meeting with OTA senior councillor Kashona kaMalulu over the issue.
During the meeting, he was allegedly informed he had 30 days to remove the fence around the land.
“After the meeting of 5 December 2020, certain members, as authorised by the second respondent
(kaMalulu), went ahead and pulled down the fence erected around my farm, farm Oshatotwa,” explained Shiningeni.
He added neither OTA nor kaMalulu have the power or right to order the removal of the fence from the piece of land in the way they
did. According to OTA, the land that was fenced off by Shiningeni was allocated to the community by the Founding President Sam Nujoma to be used by all community members to graze their livestock.
Thus, it has never been allocated to a single person.
KaMalulu indicated that all previous occupants of the area were not authorised to fence off the area in the manner to restrict access to grazing.
“It should also be noted from the onset that a grazing permit did not grant the applicant possession of the farm but merely the right to exercise access, which in turn will allow him to graze his livestock,” clarified kaMalulu.
He added Shiningeni was advised to remove the fence prior to it being destroyed by community members in 2016 and 2020, respectively.
KaMalulu denied OTA directed community members to destroy the fence, saying the action was taken on their own accord after they were left frustrated by Shiningeni’s failure to heed the call of the traditional authority.
“The erected fence had restricted other community members from exercising their grazing rights,” noted kaMalulu. - firstname.lastname@example.org