The Canadian oil company, ReconAfrica, has petitioned the Supreme Court in a suit in which it is accused of illegally drilling on a family’s crop field in Kavango East without their consent.
The company has now filed two petitions with the Supreme Court after the High Court dismissed its recusal and leave to appeal applications last month.
“After the aforesaid dismissals of the respective applications for leave to appeal, the first respondent (ReconAfrica) filed and submitted two petitions to the Honourable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court,” said Shakwa Nyambe, ReconAfrica’s lawyer.
ReconAfrica filed an application for judge Eileen Rakow to step away from the case for alleged bias, as they would not get a fair hearing.
According to ReconAfrica, Rakow has already prejudged the matter before the hearing commenced because of the statement she made during case management on 2 November 2021 and 23 November 2021.
However, the court dismissed the application, citing the court could not have prejudged the matter when it only gave direction on what to be done for “advanced proper structured arguments”.
In the leave for an appeal application, Recon said the court erred when it allowed the applicant, Andreas Sinonge, to file a reply when the days that were afforded to him had already lapsed.
This application was also dismissed, stating the company failed to make out a case of how the court misdirected itself.
ReconAfrica is being sued by Sinonge’s family, who claims the company illegally drilled on their land and in the process damaged it.
The suit also includes ReconAfrica’s partner National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor), the minister of mines, the minister of land reform, the minister of environment and tourism as well as the Shambyu Traditional Authority.
The land, to which the family has customary rights, has been in the family for 53 years, and it has been used for residential and farming purposes.
In December 2020, ReconAfrica allegedly started drilling activities on the land.
“I did not agree or consent to such disregard of my rights and destruction of the natural environment, which we have nurtured,” said Sinonge.
He said none of the respondents made contact with him or the family to ask for permission to carry out exploration activities on the land.
“I have no other land to occupy with my family. My natural resources and the forest are decimated, and the first respondent (ReconAfrica) has dug out our crop field and removed the topsoil to a place unknown to me and intends to drill further despite its activities being unlawful,” said Sinonge.
Sinonge wants the court to order ReconAfrica to restore the family land.
Yuri Perez Martinez, ReconAfrica’s deputy general manager, has denied the allegations by Sinonge.
He said the company has not disposed of his land or that of any other community member, and the allegations are unfounded.
He said Sinonge was in December 2020 aware that ReconAfrica was allocated a portion of communal land in the area of Mbabi in Kavango east by the Shambyu Traditional Authority.
According to him, they have met and fulfilled all the requirements for lawful exploration in Namibia.