The 76-year-old Jairus Haironga claims that Frans WaEmma Simbaranda has fenced off the 2 000-hectare piece of land in the Kahenge Constituency, which his communal farm is situated on.
Simbaranda is employed as a driver for Philip Tjerige, special advisor to Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister Charles Namholo.
Haironga told Nampa on Thursday he has reported the matter to the leader of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Chief Sitentu Mpasi and his Chief Council members, but no action has been taken yet.
He said he understands that Simbaranda, who apparently started erecting permanent structures on the land last October, is intending on drilling a borehole and wants to bring his cattle to the farm sometime this week.
Haironga, who claims to be the rightful owner of the farm, said he has a consent letter from the Ukwangali Traditional Authority signed by Chief Mpasi to prove his ownership. He has also appealed to the Communal Land Board to stop the Government official from erecting the fence and setting up the water borehole.
“I have a consent letter from the chief to occupy the area. I depend on this land for the grazing of my cattle and farming,” he stated, adding that he also has three huts and mahangu fields on the land.
Approached for comment, Simbaranda rubbished the pensioner’s claims, stressing that he obtained the land legally from the Ukwangali Traditional Authority and is also in possession of a consent letter.
He explained that Haironga was given the piece of land in 2009, but allegedly failed to develop it into a farm, as there is currently only a mahangu field on the land. The pensioner allegedly also does not even live there, although he (Haironga) insisted that this is the case.
According to Simbaranda, the Ukwangali Chief made the decision to give him the land as he realised that Haironga had failed to develop the farm over the past four years.
“It is just jealousy because they see that I am developing the area,” said Simbaranda before admitting that the fence is almost completely erected and saying he is just waiting for the approval of a loan from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) to drill a borehole.
He however indicated that he is yet to be issued with a leasehold certificate and that he is waiting to receive it from the Communal Land Board.
Section 44 of the Communal Land Reform Act 5 of 2002 states that it is an offence to erect a fence on a piece of land without first being granted the rights for a leasehold.
The Act states that “any person who erects or causes to erect on any communal land any fence of whatever nature, is guilty of an offence, and on conviction, liable to a fine not exceeding N.dollars 4 000, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or both”.
When contacted for comment, Kavango Regional Communal Land Board Chairperson Thomas Ngoma said he is yet to receive a report about the case and promised to follow it up as soon as such a report is received.
Meanwhile, a Chief Council member of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Eugene Siwombe said the traditional authority is aware of the dispute between the two parties.
The authority intends to call a meeting soon at the traditional palace to resolve the matter
Siwombe however commented that Chief Mpasi earlier on denied having signed the consent letter in Haironga’s possession. It is apparently suspected that former secretary of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Abisai Mutuku might have forged the chief’s signature.
The Chief Council member also explained that due to the high number of applications for farm land, the Ukwangali Chief Council set new qualifying criteria last week for the obtaining of land.
This includes that for a person to qualify for a farm, he/she must be between 21 and 55 years old and such a person must have at least 50 cattle. The new criteria does not affect those already in possession of such land.