LPM supports evicted farmer

27 Mar 2017 18:20pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 27 MAR (NAMPA) – The Landless People’s Movement on Monday pledged support to the recently-evicted ||Kharas Region farmer Sydney Skakana, vowing to stand with him as part of the pressure group’s quest for land restoration.
Skakana was evicted from State-owned farm Nukois in the Karasburg district on 23 March, after illegally settling there 13 days ago.
LPM spokesperson, Paul Thomas at a media conference on Monday, described Skakana’s action as “unlawful, but justified”.
He said the Tses area communal farmer decided to occupy the unallocated and unadvertised farm in desperation and frustration, as repeated applications for land proved unsuccessful.
Skakana, according to him, was a productive cattle farmer who has been applying for resettlement since 2003.
“Demonstrating his seriousness to farm in a commercially-viable manner, he also knocked on the doors of Government representatives in the region, including the Governor and the Land Reform Ministry, but to no avail,” Thomas added.
He said the LPM regarded the eviction unlawful, as it was executed in the presence of Namibian Police Force (NamPol) officers, who allegedly threatened to forcefully arrest the farm invader.
“It is reminiscent of the tactics deployed by the German and South African colonisers who used disproportionate force to subdue indigenous people’s resistance,” Thomas said.
Skakana said over twenty police officers, including members of the Special Reserve Force, were present during his eviction.
“The police were there with [||Kharas Regional Chief of the Ministry of Land Reform] Albertus Engelbrecht. They threatened to forcefully arrest me and repeatedly referred to me as a ‘subject’,” he said.
Thomas questioned the eligibility of beneficiaries of State land in the country.
“We note that being a Veteran of the Struggle automatically qualifies a person to be given certain privileges, including resettlement; is that fair?” he asked.
Thomas further cautioned that unlawful farmland occupations may escalate if the State fails to “meaningfully respond to the demands of landless people in Namibia”.
He also alleged that farm Nukois, which measures nearly 10 000 hectares, was earmarked for a “politically-connected individual”.
Skakana meanwhile vacated the room he occupied in the farmhouse, though his animals are still there.
He said he was informed by Engelbrecht to remove his livestock by 30 April.
“But this time, I will not leave and they can arrest me,” Skakana said.
Engelbrecht however told Nampa on Monday that Skakana requested the extension.
The land reform official said he also laid a charge of trespassing against Skakana at the Karasburg Police Station.
NamPol Regional police commander, Commissioner Rudolf Isaak the same day refuted allegations of force when approached by Nampa.
“That property is owned by the State and it is our duty to protect it. We accompanied the ministry officials as part of our duties,” he said.