The Namibian (Windhoek)

26 February 2013

Namibia: Oshivelo San Community Wants Immediate Resettlement

THE Ha-//Om San community living at Oshivelo in the Oshikoto Region has welcomed the government decision to resettle them at Farm Ondera, situated 30 kilometres east of Oshivelo.

Community spokesperson Erastus Naoxab told The Namibian that they have started with information meetings and the whole community has agreed to be resettled at Ondera.

Naoxab said the San people are suffering at Oshivelo and they would prefer to be resettled as soon as possible. He said they are starving at Oshivelo and the authorities of Oshivelo and the Guinas Constituency are treating them inhumanely.

"We are hungry. We need food and other necessities," he said, adding that they had last received drought relief food in November last year, when they were given just one 12,5kg bag of maize meal per household. He said many of their households consist of up to 12 people and that one bag of maize meal doesn't last long.

Naoxab said they also have a problem with both their traditional chiefs, Max Heibed and David //Chamuxab, who do not want them to be resettled.

Naoxab said according to Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku, who visited them on February 14 at Oshivelo, they will get involved in income-generating projects once they are at Ondera farm.

He said they would not all move at the same time because many of their children are attending school at Oshivelo and some parents and guardians will have to stay behind to assist the children.

When The Namibian visited the community on Saturday, many had nothing to eat that evening. Johanna Khobes, who appears to be in her sixties, told The Namibian that she had had nothing to eat for the last three days.

Elfriede Karises, who was found sitting at a fire with some of her grandchildren, said they had no food to cook on the fire.

"We are really starving here at Oshivelo, and we are welcoming the idea of the government to resettle us all at the farm Ondera. I think the government must act fast before we die of hunger here at Oshivelo," Karises said.

Maria Kubes and Ester Tsavares told The Namibian that is not only food that is their problem. The other problem is housing. "We are sleeping in shacks at Oshivelo and we are suffering because of rain, wind, heat, dust and so on. We hope that we are going to have better houses at farm Ondera," she said.

Naoxab said officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs underestimate the San people's ages, resulting in many not qualifying for social grants from the government.

When approached for comment, Chief Max Heibed said he never blocked the resettlement of his people on Ondera, on the contrary, it was he who came up with the proposal to go to Ondera.

"I know the suffering of my people at Oshivelo, and they need to go to Ondera to go and work on their own to have income to sustain themselves. I am for that and will never stand in the way of such a good thing from the government," Heibeb said.

"There has been a kind of dispute between me and some members of the committee, but that does not mean I am blocking the resettlement," he added.

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