25 Mar 2014 19:10pm
MUPAPAMA, 25 MAR (NAMPA) - Officials from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement in the Kavango East Region were denied access to land allegedly illegally fenced off at Mupapama village on Monday.
The village is situated some 50 kilometres (km) east of Rundu, and the land in question - covering an area of more than 30 hectares - was allegedly fenced off by the secretary of the farm and land committee of the Shambyu Traditional Authority, Kaghuyu Shikerete and an unknown partner.
The three officials were supposed to investigate the matter but were prevented from doing so by Shikerete.
Villagers of Mupapama and surrounding areas have been complaining to their village headmen and Mashare Constituency Councillor Bonny Wakudumo about the alleged fencing off of the area, which is mainly used for the grazing of their livestock.
Following complaints from the villagers, the three officials - the ministrys Deputy Director for the north-eastern regions, Apollinaris Kannyinga and development planners Fernando Marungu and Susan Nchindo - travelled to the area in question to map out the area which was allegedly illegally fenced off, only to be turned away by Shikerete.
In a heated verbal altercation, he made it clear to the Lands Ministry officials that they will not gain access to the area and threatened them by saying that should they forcefully enter, it will be at their own risk.
The officials then opted to do their measurements outside the erected fence.
Kannyinga confirmed being denied entry by Shikerete, saying the officials just wanted to determine the size of the land which was fenced off following complaints by community members at a recent meeting.
He said the matter will now be forwarded to the Kavango Communal Land Board.
Approached for comment, Shikerete said he is unhappy about the fact that despite the many cases of illegal fencing being reported on a daily basis to the Ministry of Lands, the officials allegedly fail to investigate such cases and only chose to investigate his area, something he felt was not fair.
He admitted refusing the Lands Ministry officials entry as he questioned their motives as they apparently ignored more than six other illegal fencing incidents in the Shambyu area and only targeted his area.
The Shambyu farm and land committee secretary stated that he did not grab land, adding that the area which he fenced off was previously owned by his father Edward Shikerete, who occupied it since 1950.
He said he has entered into a partnership with an investor whom he would not name to develop the area into campsites which according to him will create employment opportunities for local people.
According to Shikerete, the fencing was completed some four months back. He said boreholes have also already been drilled in the area which will provide water for free to the locals who according to him have not had access to a proper water supply since Independence in 1990.