27 Jul 2017 18:20pm
UTUSEB, 27 JUL (NAMPA) Members of the Topnaar community that live along the Kuiseb River on Tuesday said they want to be officially recognised as being marginalised, similar to the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba.
Topnaar Traditional Authority Chief Seth Kooitjie made the request on their behalf when they met with Deputy Minister of Marginalised Communities, Royal /Ui/o/oo on Tuesday.
The Division of Marginalised Communities falls under the Office of the Vice-President.
The community said they do not own communal land because they live in the Namib Naukluft Park, the level of education amongst their community is low and they are very poor.
Some asked what the requirements are to be classified as marginalisation and /Ui/o/oo explained that the criteria includes acute poverty in the whole community, being illiterate and unemployed.
At first, the deputy minister sympathised with the community, saying he thought they might qualify to be classified as marginalised, meaning they would get certain benefits.
But head of division, Gerson Kamatuka said the livelihood of Topnaars was not that of marginalised communities, because they have a school and almost all of them are literate adding that most are employed and have food.
Other communities do not have these things, they do not even have shoes, he said.
The conversation however took a different turn when Joel Kooitjie, a community member said they have concession rights in the Kuiseb Delta where they make money through guided tours and trophy hunting and camping services.
They generate close to N.dollars 500 000 every year.
Kooitjie said they also own 10 per cent shares in a fishing company which bring in close to N.dollars 60 000 a year.
We also still live on our ancestral land, we are not marginalised, and the problem is this money does not reach the community.
Upon hearing this, /Ui/o/oo changed his mind and said I think I am missing something. It is a lot of money and the question is where does the money go?
/Ui/o/oo then asked the media to leave the meeting as the community was about to air their dirty linen in public.
Three years ago the community complained that they do not benefit from this income and accused Chief Kooitjie of embezzling the money.
This case is registered with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) but they said the investigations were complicated.
ACC senior investigations officer in the Erongo Region, Walter Kurz told a media conference in April 2015 this was because the allegations dated back as far as 15 years ago.
We have to collect documents on things that took place 15 years ago and we can only proceed when we have all the relevant proof, said Kurz.