16 Jun 2013 03:40
By Mulisa Simiyasa
TSUMKWE, 16 JUN (NAMPA) ? Some cattle herders who are grazing cattle illegally in the Tsumkwe West communal area, say the drought situation currently experienced in the country this year has forced their employers to drive their cattle there in search of grazing.
Tsumkwe is situated over 260 kilometres east of Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region.
This Nampa reporter visited some fenced-off cattle posts in the communal areas of Omatako and Mangetti Dune in Tsumkwe West on Thursday and Friday, but none of the cattle herders were prepared to answer any questions, only saying they were forbid by their employers to speak to anyone, especially journalists.
However, some said the harsh drought situation in their original grazing areas in the Ohangwena, Oshana, Kavango and Otjozondjupa regions forced them to drive their cattle and donkeys to these grazing areas in Tsumkwe West.
Asked why they fenced off grazing area on communal land, the herders opted not to answer the question, and started moving away from this reporter one by one.
Approached for comment on Thursday, Tsumkwe Constituency councillor Francina Hishekwa-Ghauz brushed off the herders? claims that they were forced to move there because of the drought.
Hishekwa-Ghauz said as far as she can remember, some of the cattle herders already occupied communal land illegally since last September, even before the drought was visible everywhere in the country.
She said since the death of the !Kung Traditional Authority Chief, Chief John Arnold in July last year, under whom Tsumkwe West falls, illegal occupation of land and illegal fences started to increase.
?I started seeing some large portions of communal grazing lands being fenced off in September and October 2012. When I investigated, I heard the livestock farmers were given land by some traditional councillors from the!Kung Traditional Authority,? said Hishekwa-Ghauz without revealing the names of such traditional councillors.
She said some San people started to complain to her office in November last year that the fences are now surrounding them and hindering their normal movements.
Hishekwa-Ghauz said the San people in Mangetti Dune and Omatako complained that the bushes they usually use when nature calls are now fenced off.
They also complained that the bushes where they harvest wild fruit and plant roots - their staple foods ? have also been fenced off.
The councillor further said some !Kung San people were in December last year accused of trespassing by these ?land invaders? after they jumped over the fences to harvest wild fruit.
After the San people complained about the situation, a meeting was called on 08 June 2013 by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) in Omatako to discuss the issue.
Present during that meeting were representatives of the office of the regional governor, !Kung Traditional Authority councillors and community members.
Most of the accused farmers were not present during that meeting, and only a few of their cattle herders were in attendance, said Hishekwa-Ghauz.
The illegal farmers were then ordered by NamPol Inspector-General, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, who was also in that meeting, to vacate the communal grazing area before 06 July this year.
By Friday, the illegal fences were still standing.