ONDERA - For the past years, Ondera, a government resettlement farm allocated to marginalised community has seen an increase in overnight farmers illegally occupying land, a move that irked the indigenous people who want government to intervene to arrest the situation.
The community said when they confronted the illegal farmers they claimed they were given permission by a certain individual who they refuse to reveal.
The intruding farmer who are said to be businessman and the politically well-connected individual, are alleged to have brought in hundreds of livestock on the farm without community’s knowledge, consent or any form of legitimate authorisation.
This was acknowledged by James Uerikua, the Chief Development Planner in the Office of the Vice-President, who said they are working on obtaining a court order which will allow them to evict the farmers, who are known.
“They are about seven people known to be on the farm, who claim and have the audacity to say they are close and know the President that’s why they are there. Further threatening that no one can touch them. We are very serious to evict these people and we will not tolerate it any longer,” warned Uerikua.
The first step was to disconnect and deregister them from veterinary database as occupants of the farm. “How they got the permits to get to the farm, we do not know! And that only indicates to us, someone from the inside (farm) worked with them,” stressed Uerikua, adding once the court order is issued, they will act promptly.
“There is a process in obtaining a court order. Hence we have instructed the Board of Trustees to do a census on the farm to determine who are the original inhabitants, then come up with a master list that will then be presented to court for the issuance of eviction orders as we now know exactly who is who,” he stated.
The farm measuring 7000 hectares has 11 camps and eight cattle posts. Government in 2013 bought it for N$12 million to resettle San people who were in the corridors of Oshivelo, in an effort to engage them in agricultural activities.
About 130 households then relocated but now the number of households on the farm has spiralled to over 500, with an estimated 3,000 people living on the farm.
Furthermore, the development planner said the Trustee members are tasked to come up with a formula on how land can be allocated among the legitimate communities and register every household. “We want to know how big the land/plot then every person will be given a title deed of that area, then that’s when we say you belong to Ondera. We are waiting for them to finalise that process so we can start allocating. It is only the location part, while the rest of the area will remain grazing area, no post shall be given to individuals,” said Uerikua.
“These people occupying the farm illegally come in the middle of the night, only to wake up and find that there are new animals grazing. The farm is too big, thus they go to other camps which are far from where we are and that’s where they hide, although we are suspecting people from within are part and parcel of this syndicate,” added community leader Jan Haneb.
In addition, Haneb said this can no longer be allowed to continue happening, because it is being done at the expense of the legitimate occupants who up to date still do have rights to own land to engage in farming for their private purposes. “Therefore, government should intervene and end this now,” pressed Haneb.