Businessman 'illegally occupying' quarantine camp

12 Sep 2013 08:00
OPUWO, 12 SEP (NAMPA) - An Opuwo businessman and a committee in charge of the community quarantine camp here are at loggerheads over the businessman’s alleged illegal occupation of the camp.
The chairperson of the committee in charge of the Ehomba community quarantine camp, Tjikatha Hembinda, says Herman Redelinghuys, who owns a butchery at Opuwo, is illegally keeping his livestock in the facility.
He informed Nampa in an interview at Orue village, some 90 kilometres north of Opuwo last week that Redelinghuys moved into the camp without the committee’s authorisation after an initial agreement for him to stay in the camp had expired.
The camp was handed over to the community by the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) in 2009.
Hembinda is from Epembe village, some 25 kilometres west of the camp, making his village part of those entitled to using the camp.
The Ehomba quarantine camp is situated 80 kilometres north of Opuwo. It was constructed by Meatco for its operation in the region, but was then handed- over to the community afterwards.
Redelinghuys is said to have moved into the camp in 2011 after entering into an agreement with the committee to stay in the camp for six months at a set cost, an agreement which lapsed during February 2012.
Hembinda said after the six months had lapsed, Redelinghuys remained in the camp without making other arrangements, and he also stopped paying the agreed amount into the committee's account.
Nampa spoke to the headman of Orue village, Endomwini Tjiramba, who also insisted that Redelinghuys is in the camp illegally.
Tjiramba said Redelinghuys was not willing to communicate with the community about the terms and conditions of his renting of the camp.
“We want him to move out of the camp so that the community can use it for their own benefit,” he stressed.
According to Tjiramba, community members could have used the quarantine camp for cattle which are in a poor condition due to the drought, but now it is being used “like a private farm”.
Orue village is located about nine kilometres north of the quarantine camp.
The camp is the common property of the communities of the three villages - Ehomba, Epembe and Orue – and the members of the committee running the affairs of the camp were selected from these three villages.
Approached for comment, Redelinghuys told Nampa on Thursday that he has the right to keep his cattle in the Ehomba quarantine camp as he was permitted to graze and keep his livestock there by the committee members, as well as the traditional leaders in the area.
He said he stopped paying the agreed amount upon instructions of the traditional leaders “until further notice”.
Redelinghuys further indicated that the headman of Ehomba village, Oorlog van der Merwe, and Mundjavara Ngombe, headman of Ondoto village, were some of the leaders that he can recall as saying that he could continue keeping his livestock in the camp after he moved out in February 2012.
“After I moved my cattle to Otjihungu village, the community of Ehomba village informed me to return the cattle to the camp and keep them there while they were trying to solve their differences,” he noted.
This news agency also spoke to Jan van der Merwe, who spoke on behalf of the Ehomba headman. He confirmed that Redelinghuys was given permission by the community of Ehomba to use this facility.
According to Van der Merwe, the community lost confidence in the committee which was tasked with running the affairs of the camp after it was realised that there were administrative problems.
The leaders of all villages which are stakeholders in the camp now need to be consulted, and a meeting has to be held in an effort to solve the problem.
Van der Merwe said it was not right to say Redelinghuys is using the camp illegally as he got the Ehomba community’s permission to do so, and they are the ‘rightful’ owners of the camp as the camp is located in their village.
He added that what is needed is for all stakeholders in the camp to meet, iron out their differences and come up with ways to run the camp for the benefit of everyone involved.
“We stopped Redelinghuys from paying money into the account of the committee until the dispute has been solved,” explained Van der Merwe.
The councillor of the Epupa Constituency, Nguzu Muharukua said the matter was brought under his attention in July this year, and a meeting is expected to be held under his mediation soon so that a solution could be found.
Redelinghuys last week lost 13 cattle, which he suspects were stolen from the quarantine camp by people from the neighbouring villages who are opposed to him keeping his livestock there.
He used to keep his livestock at the Opuwo abattoir - along with other livestock waiting to be slaughtered - before moving it to the Ehomba quarantine camp.