• October 22nd, 2020

Villagers outraged over illegal fencing

Stefanus Nambara
Elizabeth Hiyolwa

Residents of Siraro village of Mpungu constituency in Kavango West have written a petition focusing on the transgressions of a man who has lived at that village for four years but had to be evicted for grabbing communal land on several occasions.
The man, whose quest for land to settle seemed to have ended in 2017 when he was brought to settle there by someone else without the villagers’ knowledge or consent but he turned out to be a bad neighbour.
As time went by, during deliberations over his stay and the issue of fencing illegally, he was allowed to settle there like the rest and not fence off any piece of land. 

He however did not bow to the agreement as he, on several occasions had to be stopped for his opportunistic acts of trying to forcefully grab a portion of the land.
“We have been fighting this same battle for three years now since towards the end of 2017. He was only allowed to put up his homestead and only enclose his crop field. The traditional authority and the police were here and he was told if he wants to fence off any land, he should first consult with the village elders for permission, but he never approached any of us,” said Sylvia Sitentu, one of the village elders. 
Last year when the culprit was ordered by the Ukwangali Traditional Authority to stop fencing off another portion of land, he only let the dust to settle and later managed to finish erecting the same contentious fence.

In attempts to block his fencing tendencies, the villagers also cleared a cutline close to where he had stopped with the intention of erecting a fence, in order to cut him off from going any further should he wish to continue to illegally fence off the land. 
Earlier this week, villagers surprisingly learnt of his next move of extending the fence that he had erected last year.
“Someone learnt of his cutline and informed us about it. So, today we came early in the morning to see it and upon reaching here, we could see it was stretching far, so we asked ourselves what to do next because we have been talking and even if you tell him to stop, he will still continue,” Sitentu said.

She said they decided to also erect a fence in the cutline they had cleared earlier on. 
This however almost led to a physical fight between them and the man’s workers as they were stopping each other from going beyond one another’s cutline.

The traditional authority had to intervene again by issuing the man with another written order to stop.
It however seemed to be only a piece of paper to him as during the squabble, he could be heard saying that he will not stop if the villagers continue with the fencing.

The villagers fight for their land had at some point led to some of them getting arrested by the Namibian Police. 
They claim this happened when they forcefully evicted the man’s workers from the village and cut off the fence from his shack and kraal.
They further asked the workers to put down the shack in the man’s absence. As such, villagers were later accused of having stolen money from the illegal fencer’s shack.

The community is now requesting the traditional authority to evict the man from the village, as they fear for their land.
“He does not listen and he is too controversial, wants us to listen to him but he found us here. He must go,” fumed Sitentu.
After the squabble calmed, the media attempted to talk to the man but he refused to entertain any media queries.
The constituency’s councillor Titus Shiudifonya who also went to the village on that day, also called for an end to the issue.
“This thing must stop. Enough is enough, last year we were here for the same issue. We discussed it with the traditional authority and he was instructed to be orderly and graze just like the other inhabitants of the community are doing, but I’m surprised today to see that this guy is still continuing after our discussion, which is not good,” lamented Shiudifonya. 

Cases of illegal fencing of communal land without the residents’ consent have become a thorn in the flesh for many communities in the region, more especially in the Ukwangali jurisdiction over a number of years.
In a related incident, residents of Mungomba and surrounding villages are also up in arms over the same issue. Although the fence they are against is still to erected, there are already markings of where it would pass. 
Unconfirmed information picked up from the community has it that a private wildlife conservancy will be put up there.

Staff Reporter
2020-07-02 09:48:57 | 3 months ago

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