Ex-traffic cop in resettlement farm row

22 Jul 2013 02:50
KEETMANSHOOP, 22 JUL (NAMPA) - A former traffic officer of the Keetmanshoop Municipality says he is in a difficult position as he has been ordered to vacate a resettlement farm for which he has already signed a lease agreement.
Lukas Apollus farms with goats, sheep and cattle in the Aroab area, and says he will have nowhere to go if he is forced to vacate that land.
He says the farm owner with whom he signed the agreement wants him off the land at Unit C of Farm Klein Aub.
A close relative of the farm owner, who has asked that his name and that of the farm owner not be mentioned due to safety reasons, spoke to Nampa on Thursday.
Speaking with the authorisation of the farm owner, he admitted that they want Apollus off the land, saying they have given him three notices to vacate the farm because they have already signed another agreement with Erick Biwa, Apollus’s brother-in-law, for him to occupy the same farming land.
According to him, the agreement they signed with Apollus was not approved by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, although the agreement with Biwa was approved by that ministry.
Giving his side of the story to this news agency on Thursday, Apollus said he refuses to let the land go without a fight because he spent close to N.dollars 45 000 on the renovation of windmills and other facilities there.
He said the repairs were part of the agreement he had signed with the farm owner in November 2012, adding that the agreement was that he should repair facilities on the farm, and would thereafter be allowed to occupy the land for free.
A lease agreement signed by both Apollus and the farm owner was shown to Nampa.
Apollus said the farm owner has asked him to vacate the land because he failed to have the agreement approved by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement.
“He has been harassing me all these days. I asked him to give me at least two months to find another place for my livestock, but he does not want to cooperate.
I submitted the agreement to the ministry, and I am still waiting for approval. I have also spent money on the farm, so it is difficult for me to just leave,” he stressed.
He furthermore indicated that he has decided to stay put because Karas Regional Governor Bernardus Swartbooi, who is the chairperson of the Karas regional resettlement committee, advised him to do so while the matter is being resolved by the ministry.
According to Apollus, the farm owner contacted a legal representative, who called Apollus to inform him that he will issue an eviction notice to him which he must adhere to.
The involvement of the governor in the matter has not been welcomed, with some Keetmanshoop residents accusing the politician of abusing his power by instructing Apollus to stay.
“He cannot just trample on people like that. He was supposed to solve the matter in a professional way,” one concerned resident said on condition of anonymity.
Approached for comment, the governor said as the chairperson of the regional Land Reform Advisory Commission (LRAC)’s Resettlement Committee, he has the right to intervene and solve issues involving resettlement farms.
Apollus has in the meantime also come under fire from State veterinarians at Keetmanshoop for moving his animals from the Vaalgras communal area to Farm Klein Aub without a permit.