Aroab Town Lands farmers to invade farm

19 Oct 2016 20:10pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 19 OCT (NAMPA) – About a dozen farmers from the Aroab Town Lands plan to invade resettlement farm Dickbusch located about 45 kilometres west of Aroab.
Spokesperson of the group, Gertjie Witbooi told Nampa late Wednesday that the group had arrived at Dickbusch.
“We are preparing to set up camp outside the locked gates now and we will seek counsel with our authorities here,” Witbooi said.
Nampa previously reported on the farmers’ frustration with the //Kharas regional and local government as well as the national structures over their pleas for land.
The farmers have been settled on a 1 700 hectare camp belonging to the Aroab Village Council for the last two decades.
They have written dozens of letters to a myriad of stakeholders regionally and nationally over the years, requesting for bigger land.
The farmers have also consistently applied to be resettled on farms in the Aroab area but to no avail, said Witbooi.
On Tuesday, the farmers met the regional head of the Ministry of Land Reform, Albertus Engelbrecht and a senior investigator of the regional Office of the Ombudsman, Hansie Swartz in Keetmanshoop.
In an emotional exchange, the farmers told the authorities that they had applied to be resettled as a group on recently advertised farm, Dickbusch.
They were told repeatedly by Engelbrecht and Swartz that the law does not provide for resettlement of a group.
The group threatened to occupy the farm, stating that there seemed to be no way out for them to own land in Namibia.
“This is a painful story that we apply year in and out, but our pleas fall on deaf ears. Are you not tired of us? All we ask for is help to be accommodated in this independent Namibia,” farmer Magrietha Matroos said.
Andrew de Jay said the group had surpassed all avenues to gain land legally and would now opt for the illegal route.
“Then our government can come with the military and remove us forcefully; we just cannot take this for a second longer,” he said.
Both Engelbrecht and Swartz explained the legal routes to the upset farmers, advising them to again apply for available resettlement farms in future.
//Kharas Governor, Lucia Basson, who is also the chairperson of the Regional Resettlement Committee, had no sympathy for the farmers when Nampa contacted her on Wednesday.
“They are not unique in their situation. Yes, they do not have a traditional authority to represent them and they do not have communal areas, but there are also other people in search of resettlement farms.”
She said the law would take its course if the farmers forcefully invaded the farm.
Basson, however, indicated that the committee in the past endorsed farmers from Aroab for resettlement, but the final decision rested with the national selection authorities.
“I am calling a meeting later this month to discuss the problems of the Aroab farmers and the Koës village farmers who are in the same boat, and we will try to motivate for larger camps in the village areas where they can farm,” she added.
Engelbrecht said he hoped farmers would abandon their illegal activity.
“We have warned them, but if they decide to break the law by entering and damaging government property then the law will deal with them. I have instructed the guards in the area to be on the lookout and we will act from there.”