13 February 2013

Namibia: Aussenkehr Grape Farmers Face Another Eviction Fight

HOT on the heels of their recent High Court victory, ten small-scale farmers along the Orange River face a fresh eviction order.

The government started the eviction process against the farmers, with Deputy Sheriff Andrew Walters confirming that he served summons on the farmers yesterday.

The farmers vowed to respond to allegations that they had breached several conditions of their lease agreement, which resulted in the termination of the agreement by Government.

They are Annelli Shithingona, Ester Kadhidhi, Risto Nambase, David Shikongo, Tomas Haitembo, Applonia Hausiku, Simon Olavi, Augustinus Haith, Erna Josob and Josob Frederick.

The High Court last month rescinded their eviction, allowing them to return to the State-owned vineyard plots and houses from which they were evicted towards the end of last year.

An alleged breach of their lease agreement with the government led to their eviction.

The court ruling followed a successful appeal by the farmers' lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, against the judgement granted against them in September last year.

Metcalfe argued that the default judgement was erroneously sought and granted in the absence of his clients, as summons instituting the proceedings were not served on one of them.

Because of this, Metcalfe argued, his clients failed to file a notice of intention to defend the judgement.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Haith said: "We'll definitely defend ourselves. We've accordingly informed our lawyers."

The standoff between the Ministry of Agriculture and the farmers originated from the farmers' refusal to sell their produce through a government-appointed service provider, Cool Fresh Namibia.

It is understood that the government had imposed Cool Fresh Namibia on the farmers with the backing of the former permanent secretary of agriculture, Andrew Ndishihi.

Eviction threats against the farmers started in 2010 when they started selling their grapes to a Dutch-based company instead of Cool Fresh Namibia.

The farmers claimed they earned less by selling through the middleman.

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