Five families face eviction as communal land ‘sold’

By Eliaser Ndeyanale at Kahenge


THIRTY-FOUR people from Ncamadore village in Mpungu constituency of the Kavango West region are facing eviction after their land was allegedly sold to a businessperson.

The landowners Hilde Kasiku and her husband Frans Josef Hausiku, known as Bobo, lost the land after it was allegedly sold to businessman Pellep Mbangula from Ohangwena region for an amount of N$350 000 by senior leaders within the Uukwangali Traditional Authority.

The couple, who said they survive only from the products they gather from the field said they have owned the land since 1994. It is situated south of Nkurenkuru between Ncamadore and Onadeu O villages and is lined by tall trees and now short grass, which is dry because of the prevailing drought.

Kasiku and her husband live there with their six children and eight grandchildren. Four other families who live on the land with kids aged between two and six years, say they cannot move off the land now as it’s near rainy season.

Although Kasiku and Hausiku do not know the exact size of their land since they are lay persons, they said the area is huge and accommodates five families who have built their houses there and cultivate the land.

Another person who faces eviction is a retired Nampol commissioner who grazes his cattle on the land. The commissioner said he has been grazing there since 2014 after he was given permission by Kasiku and her husband, who are the rightful owners of the land.

However, about three months ago two men, Simon and Paulus Mbangula, allegedly told the families including the commissioner’ cattle herders, to move from the place, as the land had been bought.

“They were insulting us, saying we are stupid because we don’t want to leave the land while they paid a lot of money for it,” said Moses Shikodi, a father of two.

Mbangula confirmed in a traditional court on Friday that Simon and Paulus talked about by the affected people were his representatives and apologised for their behaviour.

He, however denied that he bought the land, saying instead that he got it free of charge. However, sources privy to the matter alleged that Mbangula paid N$350 000 in installments.

People are not allowed to buy land in communal areas, they can only lease it.

Asked by Confidente when he acquired the land and how, Mbangula said: “I don’t have a mandate to speak on behalf of the traditional authority. Honestly, I don’t want to give information that I am not supposed to give.

“No, that is just bandage. I’m also hearing it from Tate (Lukas) Shikomba, but those are actually stories that were brought up by my guys just to probably scare the villagers there, or whatever to make it seem very urgent why people have to move,” he said.

Last Friday, UTA judges Andreas Shigwedha and Sam Malovu heard the land dispute and lambasted Kasiku and her husband for not bringing the people they accommodated on their land to the office of the traditional authority to be registered.

“Only the chief has the power to give a person a place to settle in Ukwangali Traditional Authority, not you as an ordinary person. You did that (give land) on your own and it is contrary to the Traditional Authority Act,” Malovu said.

Lukas said he started grazing his animals at Ncamadore village in 2014 and was also given permission by departed Hompa Sitentu Mpasi but when Mpasi fell ill he could not obtain land in the area.

However, Malovu insisted that the commissioner produce documents that he had been given permission by Mpasi to own a mahangu field. “The letters you are showing us are for grazing, not for you to build a house here,” Malovu interjected.

Mbangula testified that he went through the Hompa’s office and was later called so that he could be shown the land where he could build his house.

Asked by Confidente whether Mbangula paid for the land and if he had done so, how much he paid, the seemingly angry judges responded “We don’t have a mandate to ask him that question.”

He also threatened Confidente for taking notes in court, saying this journalist would be sued if the chief sees the notes.

Shikodi also asked if the UTA had given Mbangula the power to remove them from the land, but Malovu said they couldn’t entertain the question.

Kasiku told Confidente after the court proceedings that she did not know how she was going to feed her family as they now have to move from the land they have been cultivating for 24 years.

“That’s where we grow crops that we sell and keep at home. Now, I don’t know what I am going to do to feed my six kids and eight grandchildren. We don’t get monthly incomes,” she said.

Asked if he was aware of the eviction of the families, Hompa Eugene Siwombe Kudumo said “Why are you concerned about that specific issue of Mbangula and so on? I am not aware of that. I am a chief I am not a malala pipe, who just travel [and] hear this nonsense that is happening in the bushes.

“If you are in this position, do you think you will know everything that is happening in the bushes? You are just undermining me even. Why are you not asking your tribe such questions?

“I know about you and we are sick and tired of being undermined this way. You are undermining me. Are you a Kwanyama or Ndonga, what is your tribe? If you want clarity call the chairperson, not me, and whoever gave you my number just to call me direct?

“You could go through the chairperson and ask him, ‘Can I speak to the chief?’ Then he tells me, then you can come and talk. Do you think you are superior to us?” the chief asked.

The chairperson of the UTA, Christian Semuketa Ndeyapo, whom this publication had been referred to by Kudumo said he was not aware of the eviction.

Kavango West Governor Sirkka Hausiku said she was also not aware of the matter but asked that information be sent to her so she could follow up.

In a related matter, Confidente reported earlier this year how farmers from other regions were being charged up to N$50 per head of cattle per month by the UTA, meaning some farmers would pay N$84,000 per month and over N$1 million per year.

Asked what the traditional authority does with that money, Siwombe declined to answer, saying he was being undermined.

“Why there is a fee for grazing from government? Why can’t you ask the government? Ask the government, because there is already a fee from government. If you graze there is a fee, which the government pays for you. If they are here illegally, we fine them,” he said before ending the call.

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