Community unite against illegal fencing

09 Oct 2013 18:10pm
OREVIA, 09 OCT (NAMPA) – The small village of Orevia in the Omaheke Region became a beacon of hope for the Omaheke Communal Land Board’s programme to rid the region of illegal fencing after villagers who had erected such fences, voluntarily removed it.
The illegal fencing at Orevia, situated in the Aminuis Constituency some 90 kilometres south of Gobabis, covered almost half of the village's total grazing area.
Orevia villagers took a common vow to open up communal land in the area - most of which had been fenced off by individual farmers - in a bid to allow more grazing for their drought-stricken livestock.
After unanimously agreeing earlier this year to have all illegal fences removed, villagers here sought the assistance of the Omaheke Land Board, which in turn investigated and ordered the removal of illegal fences belonging to some 11 individuals at the village.
To date, eight of the illegal fences were removed, while one farmer requested for an extension of up to December to have his fence removed due to work commitments.
The owner of the remaining fence opted to apply for legal land rights certificate to have the portion of land registered in his name. The application is still pending.
A Deputy Director in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Marvin Sisamu, under whose jurisdiction the process of removing illegal fencing falls, praised farmers here for adhering to set provisions of the land act by removing the illegal fences.
He said Orevia villagers have shown that the registration of land rights process could bear positive results if accepted by all parties concerned.
“You have proven what results could be forthcoming if a community works together, and we applaud you for that. For those who still want to keep their land, please apply through the legal channels as the process for land rights registration is still ongoing until March 2014,” he said.
The Aminuis constituency is grappling with a serious illegal fencing crisis, which has rendered most farmers unable to access large tracts of land which have been fenced off for private use by some communal farmers.
The practice, which is said to be largely perpetrated by well-off farmers in the area - some of whom already have commercial farms of their own - has become a serious concern amongst the farming community.
The fencing off of communal grazing land for an individual’s private use in Aminuis has in the past led to ugly confrontation, often ending in physical assaults on farmers in the area.
A 54-year-old man was last year viciously beaten, allegedly by a gang of men in the Aminuis constituency, for illegally fencing off land that belonged to someone else.
Hiskia Kamukuendjandje was attacked at his residence at Post Klein Agab (also known as Ozondjiva) with sticks and other unknown objects.
In September 2010, a man lost his small finger, after it was chopped off with a panga during a land dispute between farmers in the Ondjiripumua, Otjijere and Okombepera areas, where some well-off people had allegedly been grabbing land at will.