NKURENKURU – Residents of Suni village in Kavango West Region are tormented with thoughts about their unknown future as they are on the verge of losing yet another portion of their communal land.
The land is about to be fenced off for a planned new farm.
Haindongo Simbombo, one of the affected villagers said they came to know about the fencing of their communal land that is said to cover about seven kilometres in length and three kilometers in width, a week ago.
“We heard the news from our fellow residents about a shack erected. Upon hearing it, we came to see and try to find out how they came to Suni village to put up a farm. Secondly, we wanted to know who brought them here and who is the owner of the farm?” stated Simbombo.
The villagers said they have agreed with workers on site to stop working until their questions were answered.
This however he said did not happen as they later again learned that the workers at the site were clearing the farm boundaries.
“We came back and asked about our agreement, that they should stop until we get to know who has allocated the land to them,” he continued.
Reports picked up by this reporter at the time of visiting Suni are that the person who is said to have allocated the land is from a different village. It is alleged that he is doing so to compensate the person he allocated the land to for having used him to put up a farm for a relative at their village.
Because of its large size, homesteads, grazing areas, crop fields and even a cemetery will be enclosed by the fence should it be erected.
The villagers fear, that once it is erected, those affected will have to move away from their only place and their livestock will have limited grazing area.
“They are killing our community, we do not even know what will happen to the affected households, will they be enclosed inside the fence? Will they be moved out? Will the people be free to move as before? Will they have access to their crop fields as before, and will they be free to move around within the fence in search of wild fruits as before?” Simbombo questioned.
Another question is, what will happen to the community’s cemetery.
The residents told this reporter that they had already lost another portion of their land to three more farms that they said were also put up without their consent. They claim they lodged their complaint with the Ukwangali Traditional Authority demanding to stop it but to no avail.
Nonetheless, they continue the fight of stopping another piece of their land from being lost.
A complaint by way of a formal written letter has been lodged with the traditional authority and the Tondoro Constituency office.
The Tondoro Constituency councillor, who is also the chairperson of the region, Joseph Sikongo confirmed receiving the letter and said he will take it up with the communal land board for investigations. He expressed complete disapproval of fencing of communal land, as it is illegal by law and demanded that the situation at Suni be stopped immediately.
This reporter, via telephone spoke to a man who only identified himself as Gideon and maintains that he is the owner of the land.
Gideon said he acquired the land through the right procedures and confirmed that it is him who is fencing it off as he refuted claims that he has allocated it to someone else.
He also maintains it was legally allocated to him many years ago, when the late Hompa Daniel Sitentu Mpasi was still chief of the vaKwangali tribe.
The Chairperson of the Ukwangali Traditional Chiefs Council Christian Shimuketa said he is yet to receive the complaint letter as he was out of office due to personal matters.
Caption (Residents): Suni residents at the communal land that is about to be fenced off to pave way for a planned farm.