08 Sep 2016 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 08 SEP (NAMPA)- The High Court here has ordered the immediate removal of about 22 illegal settlers and their livestock from the N#Jaqna Conservancy in the Otjozondjupa Region.
The court order came into effect on 18 August 2016.
The N#Jaqna Conservancy is located under the !Kung Traditional Authority in Otjozondjupa Region, of which the majority inhabitants in the area are the minority San people.
The High Court has ordered that 22 of the illegal occupiers in the N#Jaqna Conservancy must remove their illegal fences, remove their livestock from the conservancy and vacate the areas illegally occupied by them within 60 days of the granting of the order, failing which the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board and the Ministry of Land Reform is authorised and ordered to forcibly remove the fences, livestock and occupiers, said Toni Hancox, Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) Director, in a media statement availed to Nampa here on Thursday afternoon.
Hancox represented the N#Jaqna Conservancy during the hearing in the High Court on 18 August 2016.
The matter was instituted in 2013 by the Legal Assistance Centre on behalf of the N#Jaqna Conservancy Committee against 36 respondents, including the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Chairperson of the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board, !Kung Traditional Authority, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta and some 32 identified individuals.
The High Court order underscores earlier sentiments expressed by Shifeta when he stated that his ministry will not tolerate abuse of communities in conservancies by invaders.
This latest developments, according to the LAC, is a positive indication of the growing support from Government for vulnerable communities whose communal land and conservancy resources have been usurped by illegal occupiers.
Although the outcome of the court proceedings is a positive step forward for the N#Jaqna Conservancy specifically, the court order has indeed empowered other conservancies and local communities that are being denied their rights by illegal settlement, grazing and fencing.
The Legal Assistance Centre is confident that the relevant ministries and local authorities will act expeditiously to enforce the order should this become necessary and that they will continue to support and defend the rights of vulnerable communities whose constitutional rights are infringed, Hancox noted.