Farm invaders arrested and ordered to remove their livestock

Niël Terblanché

An act of desperation led to the arrest of eight farmers from Gobabis who took matters into their own hands by occupying a government-owned farm near Gobabis in the Omaheke Region on Saturday.

The group, along with their livestock, set up residence at the Witsand farm, which has reportedly been unused for more than three years.

This action led to their arrest for trespassing by the Namibian Police on Tuesday.

The farmers, frustrated by a lack of grazing land and what they perceive as inaction on the part of authorities, erected shacks and offloaded more than 300 of their animals onto the farm.

The spokesperson of the group, Lesley Pienaar, voiced their grievances and stressed the dire situation they face due to the unavailability of grazing land.

He said the farm invasion was a calculated attempt to bring attention to their longstanding pleas for resettlement, which have been continuously ignored.

“How can farmers, who already pay taxes in Namibia, be ignored by the government when we need land to raise and graze our animals?” Pienaar asked.

Their drastic measures stem from the alleged mismanagement of the Witsand resettlement farm, which was intended for Namibians who were supposed to be repatriated from Botswana.

The farmers, however, claim that the designated beneficiaries currently reside in Botswana and have no immediate plans to return to Namibia.

The farmers had to rent grazing land from local municipalities to sustain their livestock.

Pienaar said the arrangement is unsustainable for the farmers because they have also been evicted from the land they were renting from the various local authorities.

“We are now going to put up our houses next to the main road so that we can be close to our animals. Those of us who were arrested are not allowed back on the farm but our friends and family will help us to look after our livestock,” Pienaar said.

He said the farmers will, for the time being, not remove their animals from the farm

He said that for the animals to be removed, a specific court order must be issued.

In an effort to escalate the issue, the group has called upon Regional Governor Pio Nganate and the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, to discuss possible solutions to their grievances.

During the invasion of Witsand, one of the farmers expressed their frustration with the political system, accusing authorities of neglecting their plight except during election times.

“We will settle this matter in court,” they declared, stressing their determination to fight for their rights.

Following their arrest, each farmer was required to pay bail of N$800 and was given a three-day ultimatum to remove their animals from the farm.

Their case is scheduled to be heard on the 15th of July this year.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has condemned the occupation, labelling it illegal and stressing that the farm is reserved for Namibians returning from Botswana.

Related Posts