Ongwediva — The regional commander of Oshikoto Region, Commissioner Armas Shivute, has revealed the police have been instructed to seize heaps of sand that were illegally mined in Oshikoto.
He acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism requesting his office to charge those implicated and to forthwith confiscate heaps of sand from illegal sand mining operations at Ondado village in Oniipa, in Oshikoto Region.
Shivute said a team has been dispatched to the scene to investigate. But the ministry is yet to open a case.
"I received the letter on Tuesday, but we would follow procedures. A team is tasked to investigate and once we have all the documents in place the docket will be sent to the prosecutor general for a decision," Shivute said.
During a visit to the sand mining site on Monday, the ministry's senior environmental inspector Ipeinge Mundjulu said the environmental commissioner Theofilus Nghitila, in a letter addressed to the head of the police in Oshikoto, wants the police to charge and take to court two prominent businessmen in Oshikoto.
The two who are alleged to be mining sand illegally at an about 10-hectare pit at Ondando are the mayor of Ondangwa, Paavo Amwele, who owns Huhu City, and Niimboto Otto Shikomba of Niimboto Company.
The duo is accused of violating the Environmental Management Act by allegedly mining without an Environmental Clearance Certificate.
The ministry in its letter also directs that the operations at the site be halted pending the finalisation of the matter in court.
When contacted for comment Amwele denied that he is involved in illicit sand mining.
Amwele claims he has been mining sand before the clearance certificate came into being, claiming that he applied for the certificate in 2017, but he has not yet been awarded one.
The illegal sand mining has left the community divided, with those benefiting from the scheme saying it is the only way to uplift themselves from poverty.
Those who are against the mining claim that their lives have been put at risk.
In addition to the noise and dust from the trucks that ferry the sand, the trucks have allegedly destroyed their usual sand road tracks.
In addition to the communities' dissatisfaction, the ministry is also of the opinion that the sand miners have destroyed the vegetation.
New Era understands that three traditional homesteads have already been paid off and have since relocated to pave way for the sand mining.