10 February 2016

Namibia: Shipoh to Auction Farm Evictees' Livestock

Approximately 500 animals belonging to 12 mostly San families who were evicted on Monday from a farm belonging to Namibia's High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Peingondjabi Shipoh, have been put up for auction to recover losses allegedly incurred by the diplomat.

The group was evicted from Farm Berg Aukas near Grootfontein on Monday and by yesterday were still stranded by the side of the road - without any place to go.

They were served with an eviction order last week Friday and on Monday were removed from the farm with the help of the police. On Monday the group spent the night next to the road where their belongings were strewn, while their livestock remained locked inside the farm.

As if that was not enough, the group had a rude awakening from a court sheriff yesterday morning, when he delivered a notice informing them that all their animals are to be auctioned off on Friday, February 19.

According to the sheriff, the animals are being auctioned off to recover losses incurred by Shipoh during the eviction process, as well as the duration of their stay at the farm.

Before Shipoh bought it the farm has changed owners multiple times over the years, it is understood. Shipoh acquired the farm in 2011, but has been struggling to get rid of the group, which has lived on the property since 1988.

It is alleged that the high commissioner incurred losses of over N$80 000. However, it is understood that any surplus money derived from the auction of their livestock will not be paid to the group, nor will any animals be returned to any of the evicted individuals.

The animals include donkeys, horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens. The evicted group includes around 30 school kids under the age of 10 and a number of elderly people.

One of the evictees, Julietha Shimbojo, said: "All our animals will be sold and we shall not be given even a single cent, irrespective whether the money derived from the auction will be more than what they claim we owe.

"Apparently it is going to cover the cost of water we were using and to pay for security services and maintenance among others," added Shimbojo, who said their situation is deteriorating due to the rainy conditions.

"We're asking government to intervene. We've already lost land. Now we have nowhere to go and we can't afford to lose all our animals, which is the only wealth we are left with," she said.

Shipoh yesterday defended his actions and said he lost his patience after numerous requests for the families to move.

"It is true that I own Farm Berg Aukas 593 since 2011, but I was denied occupation and enjoyment thereof by the illegal occupants since 2011. For five years I behaved myself to avoid hunting 'kudus on two legs' on my farm and resorted to the justice system of Namibia to intervene," he said yesterday. "Should I have bought it under HP (hire purchase)/bank loan in 2011, by now I must have lost it, but I am required to pay land and other taxes to government. Proof is available."

Grootfontein Constituency Councillor Nelao Amugulu came to the destitute group's aid yesterday when her office provided some bags of meal and fish. Other good Samaritans in the area brought them sugar and bread.

Amugulu told New Era that as of yesterday she was still making arrangements to find a temporary shelter for the group, although she sounded somewhat despondent, as she had exhausted all options she could think of.

"We're still trying to negotiate and find a place, but the situation [of the evictees] remains as bad as it was," she explained.

Since acquiring the farm, Shipoh is said to have repeatedly requested the families to vacate his property, but his orders did not yield any positive response.

He then approached the courts to push for formal eviction - which too was met with stiff resistance from members of the marginalised San community.

The group was served with the latest eviction order on Friday last week, but still refused to budge. It was against this background that the local police got involved in the eviction of the impoverished families on Monday.


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