New Era (Windhoek)

18 June 2012

Namibia: Widow Struggles As a Farmer

Aus — The elderly Sara Plaatjies who farms at Tsachanabis, near Aus, in Karas inherited the farm after her husband, Jan Plaatjies, who was the beneficiary, died.

However, she cannot do much on the farm, as the farm is still in the name of her late husband, who died in 2001, shortly after receiving the farm.

The 10 554-ha farm is divided in two units of which 5 260 ha belongs to the Plaatjies family.

Tsachanabis was bought in 1997 but the farm was only handed over in 2001, hence the extreme dilapidation of the farm infrastructure.

"Since we came here we are trying to fix the water infrastructure, as well as the house, that was in a bad state," the elderly widow related.

She said everything was stolen when they arrived at the farm, four years after it was purchased.

"Everything was stolen, machines, fences - and the fences are still down, since we came 11 years ago," Plaatjies said.

The widow cannot even get an Agribank loan, as the farm is still in the name of her late husband, Jan.

"If I can at least manage to get the farm on one of my two sons' names, so that we can apply for loans and start making use of the farm," she said wishfully.

Her two sons are employed and they help their mother partly, but they cannot really sustain the farm

Plaatjies receives a monthly old-age pension, which is the livelihood of her household.

According to Plaatjies, Ministry of Lands and Resettlement officials came to the farm and made a list of all the broken equipment but to date nothing has been done.

She only owns about 60 goats, which are daily threatened by jackals and thieves.

Aaron Claasen owns the second unit, but the part-time farmer was not at the farm at the time of the New Era visit.

Attempts to get hold of him were unsuccessful but his workers said that the farmer has to "fix" his water on his own, as many other resettlement farmers do.

He owns 90 goats and 13 cattle. Claasen initially came with 400 goats and 17 cattle, but had to sell them off over years.

It is not clear why he sold more than half of his flock.

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