Drought causes battle between southern farmers

22 Jun 2013 11:40
BERSEBA, 22 JUN (NAMPA) - A dispute between two farmers from the Berseba area over land continues unabated, despite a Namibian Police Force warning for them to stop issuing death threats and criminal charges against each other.
Farmer Hendrik Visser and former Keetmanshoop Mayor Arnold Losper have been at each other?s throats since early May this year over a piece of land which both claim is theirs.
In May this year, Losper laid a charge of trespassing against Visser, who in turn laid a counter-charge of malicious damage to property after Losper destroyed iron poles used to erect a fence on that disputed piece of land in Paradys village.
Earlier this month, Visser moved his goats and sheep from the Groenveldputs village to the Paradys village in search of grazing, a move which received the approval of the then Goliath Traditional Authority already in 2009.
However, Arnold and his brother Antonius Losper at Paradys allegedly stopped Visser, claiming they cannot afford to accommodate another farmer due to limited grazing land.
Another reason for them preventing Visser from moving there is that he moved there without the authorisation of the recognised /Hai-/khaua Traditional Authority which rules Berseba now.
Nevertheless, Visser managed to settle at Paradys but the Lospers allegedly threatened to make his life difficult and said they would force him to move.
Speaking to Nampa on Wednesday, a furious Visser accused Arnold Losper of pumping water from the Government water point tank of which the engine runs on diesel Visser bought, allegedly so that his (Visser's) animals could not drink.
He further said because the water was intentionally wasted his animals stayed without water for three days, and for that reason he laid a case of animal cruelty against Losper.
On Tuesday, Visser had to seek police assistance to force Losper to hand over the key of the engine's pump so that his animals could drink.
Losper, who is the chairperson of the water point committee, allegedly locked the entrance to the diesel pump on Saturday and disappeared with the key until Tuesday when police instructed him to open it.
?After opening the gate on Tuesday, Losper again locked the gate on Wednesday and took the key with and my animals again did not have water,? Visser told this news agency.
Visser used the opportunity to request the /Hai-/Khaua Traditional Authority and police to once again warn the Lospers to stop making his life difficult and let him graze his animals freely.
Approached for comment, Deputy Captain of the /Hai-/Khaua Stephanus Goliath said he knows about the dispute, and that the Lospers are wrong to take the law into their own hands.
He further said the Lospers were warned to stop what they are doing and let the authority deal with the matter, but they do not listen.
?The Lospers decided to take the law into their own hands, perhaps because they think we are slow. We are not slow, the matter is being dealt with responsibly, not in the irresponsible way they are doing it,? Goliath said.
He further blamed Visser for moving there without consulting the recognised authority, saying he made his life difficult by turning his back on the authority.
Last month, Karas Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Armas Shivute summoned Losper and Visser to his office and verbally warned them to stop death threats against each other.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Goliath sent a letter to the Directorate of Rural Water Supply in Keetmanshoop, asking them to close the water point to avoid the conflict between Visser and the Lospers.
This request prompted Berseba Constituency Councillor Dawid Boois to enter the fray on Friday, and he in turn sent a letter to the same directorate objecting to the water point closure.
Boois said the borehole is for the whole community, thus it should not be closed because three people are causing a disturbance.
On his part, acting Regional Head at the Rural Water Supply Jacobus Jahr on Friday acknowledged the letters and the dispute between the farmers.
He said the animals did not drink water from that borehole since Wednesday because the key to the engine was taken.
?I understand Antonius is the one who took the key but his phone is off so I might just ask the police to assist in locating him to open the pump,? Jahr said.
Jahr told Nampa that he will write a letter to the Lospers to request them to open the water pump so that the animals can have water.
?I will also forward this letters to the head office in Windhoek for a decision on what should be done about the water point because I cannot just close it like that,? Jahr said.
Given a chance to present his side of the story Friday, Losper rejected all the allegations, saying he did not prevent Visser from staying at Paradys or pumping water.
?All those allegations are false. I can confirm that Visser went to Paradys illegally. He was told not to come there because the land is too small to accommodate his animals. I do not have the key so ask Antonius,? Losper said.
He then accused Visser of throwing his cows with stones at the water point to stop them from drinking there.
?I confronted him to stop beating my cows because he will cripple them, but he does not listen. If he continues like that I will just take action against him,? he threatened.
Antonius Losper also denied the allegations, but admitted to having locked the entrance to the water pump because he is one of the committee members taking care of the water point.
?Visser is lying when he says the animals do not have water because there is water in the tank. He instructed his herder not to give the animals water so that he can accuse us,? Antonius said on Friday.