10 Jul 2013 06:10
By Mulisa Simiyasa
GROOTFONTEIN, 10 JUL (NAMPA) ? The illegal fencing-off of land in the Tsumkwe-West communal area is worse than previously thought, as the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement discovered even more fences this week.
The Deputy Director in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement?s Otjozondjupa regional office, Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata told Nampa on Wednesday that her technical team has completed the mapping of the Omatako communal area at Tsumkwe, and in the process discovered that 33 000 hectares of communal land, and not 5 000 as previously reported, had been fenced-off.
Omatako is situated over 150 kilometres south-east of Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region.
?We travelled to the deepest communal areas in Omatako, and we discovered more fences. The total number of illegal fences has increased from 21 as reported last week to 37 so far in the area of Janju alone,? Nghituwamata stressed.
She explained that three more communal areas (Boebie Pos, Kano Vlei and Mangetti Dune) in which fenced-off land had been noted, are yet to be mapped, meaning the total number of recorded illegal fences might thus increase.
The smallest piece of fenced-off land found so far is 36 hectares, while the largest illegal farm is 5 732 hectares.
The alleged illegal farmers in Tsumkwe-West claim to have been forced to drive their animals there because of the drought in their areas of origin ? which have been identified as the Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omusati, Kavango and Omaheke Regions, and parts of the Otjozondjupa Region.
The police had set a deadline of 06 July this year for the illegal farmers to vacate the area, but by Saturday, only one farmer had dismantled his fence.
Meanwhile, members of the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to consult the Attorney-General?s Office for advice on the illegal fencing situation.
The Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board?s chairperson, Jeaneth Kuhanga told this agency shortly after a closed-door meeting held here that the Board will write a letter to the Attorney-General, Dr Albert Kawana, to seek advice before taking any action against the accused farmers.
She said the letter will be handed over to the Office of the Attorney-General before Friday.
The same meeting also resolved that Board members would travel to Omatako on Wednesday for a two-day consultative meeting with the !Kung Traditional Authority on the matter of illegal fencing.
They will then tour the fenced-off communal areas to assess the situation for themselves, Kuhanga noted.
?We want to exhaust all means of communication before we institute any legal action or remove any illegal fence in Tsumkwe West,? she stated.