Namibia: 27 Face Eviction From Army Ground

21 August 2019

Omuthiya — The Ministry of Defence is set to evict several households and over 20 farmers whose cattle posts encroach into the army grounds between King Kauluma and Oshivelo in Oshikoto Region.

The area covers about 14 kilometres, locals say.

It is designated for training, drills and as a shooting range. However, the ministry is said to have not been carrying out these exercises due to the presence of people and animals, which poses a great risk.

The aggrieved communities argue that they have been living in that area since 1982 prior to independence, and are surprised to see the ministry trying to evict them from the area.

They have thus called for government and the Ondonga Traditional Authority to intervene.

"What I can confirm is that Oshivelo is proclaimed as a training area even before independence and is gazetted as such. These people have at many occasions been informed about their illegal presence and others still continue to encroach," said Ministry of Defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Petrus Shilumbu.

"This issue did not start yesterday but long ago, not only in Oshikoto, people should know that this land belong to the Ministry of Defence. Some have encroached so close to the base and its very dangerous. The troops cannot do manoeuvre exercises such as crawling and firing, among others," he added.

He said the problem always starts when civilians are allowed to settle temporarily in designated areas as this. "They become conformable, then set up permanent structures and then it becomes difficult to [remove them]," stressed Shilumbu.

Due to ravaging drought, NDF has seen an influx of illegal grazing within their farms across the country. President Hage Geingob also denounced these acts during a town hall meeting in Omuthiya, where he said that NDF farms are dangerous areas as sophisticated training is undertaken.

The headman of Oshivelo, Erwin Nashikaku acknowledged the situation, saying that, the said area is indeed under the army grounds.

"Initially, the ministry wanted to evict the people last year September after a three year notice period lapsed. I intervened and pleaded with the ministry to give them an additional year while they relocate. They have been refusing to move and they are well aware of the terms upon which they settled in the area. At the moment, my hands are tied because it's beyond me," stated Nashikaku.

Furthermore, Nashikaku said the communities were informed on various meetings, including one with the late King Immanuel Kauluma Eliphas in which the communities were told that they were temporarily accommodated and will have to move when time comes.

Meanwhile, OTA Secretary Joseph Asino said they were not aware of the land dispute, hence could not pronounce themselves on the matter. He thus requested the aggrieved communities to bring the mater before traditional court for a well-informed decision.

Shilumbu could not comment on the way forward but could not rule out an eviction, saying a court order will first have to be obtained if the situation persists.

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