KEETMANSHOOP: Ten small-scale grape farmers along the Orange River in the Aussenkehr settlement are homeless after being evicted by Government from the plots they worked for 12 years.
The eviction took place Tuesday afternoon despite the plea from farmers that they have nowhere to go and that they have invested more into the projects to lose it in one day.“I slept in the street with my wife and three children, the wives and children of other farmers who were evicted also slept in the street. They took our belongings out of the houses and throw them in the street,” said Augustinus Haith, one of the evictees during a telephonic enquiry with Nampa Wednesday.
Eight of the farmers were not present when court messenger Andrew Walters executed the eviction.
“We are homeless now; we are left without anything after sweating for 12 years. Now our children have to miss school because they have no water, food to shower and eat before going to school,” said Kaimbi
Haitembu who spoke to Nampa from Windhoek Wednesday.Haitembu says he has no idea what will happen next, whether they will get the plots and houses back or will have to face the jobless and homeless life.
He also noted that a request was sent to the Swapo-Party Youth League (SPYL) in Karas Region and regional Governor Bernardus Swartbooi to organise a meeting, with Agriculture, Water and Forestry minister John Mutorwa, to find an amicable solution.
The farmers are part of the Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) that started in 2001.They claim that they are being evicted from the Government vineyards after they decided to sell their produce to a Dutch-based company in 2010.
This decision allegedly violates their agreement with the Agriculture Ministry that obliges them to sell their grapes to Cool Fresh Namibia (CFN), a service provider appointed by Government.
Government allegedly promised them in 2001 that after three years, the plots they worked on would be handed over to them and they could then operate independently.Aussenkehr is located some 24 kilometres from Noordoewer settlement along the Orange River.