Only 11 illegal fences removed in 2018

WINDHOEK - Despite President Hage Geingob's call last year on the Ministry of Land Reform to put its shoulder to the wheel

in starting to implement laws prohibiting illegal fencing, the ministry said yesterday it has only removed 11 illegal fences from the 307 reported between 2012 � 2015. According to statistics presented during the 2nd National Land Conference late last year, Ohangwena tops the list with 107 cases of illegal fencing reported between 2012-2015.

It is followed by Otjozondjupa with 58 cases recorded during the same period, Omaheke (48), Omusati (42), Kavango East and West (36), and Oshikoto (16). Geingob, just after the second national land conference, said that he was gravely

disturbed by incidents of illegal fencing that are prevalent across communal areas where these barriers restrict the movement of livestock. In the past, wealthy politicians have been accused of fencing off massive tracts of land, at times

measuring over 3 000 hectares, in communal areas.

Section 18 of the Communal Land Reform Act (Act 5 of 2002), enacted in 2003, takes a strong position against the erection of fences on communal lands, which is prevalent in Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions. A sensitisation and consultation process should start before law enforcement agencies move swiftly to enforce the law without fear or favour, presidential press secretary Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, in a statement, quoted Geingob as having said. Geingob, speaking during a cabinet meeting on a post-mortem and review of the resolutions of

the second national land conference, said by the end of this month [October 2018], all illegal fences should be identified and notice should be given to those committing the illegal act to remove their fences within a reasonable timeline.

However, when contacted for an update yesterday, land reform ministry spokesperson Chrispin Matongela said the issue of illegal fencing is an ongoing process; all reported illegal fences have been removed and our annual baseline as we

speak stands at 11, meaning 11 fences were removed during the previous financial year.

However, he said there are fence owners who appealed to the High Court against the decisions of the land boards, and those fences remain intact. This issue is already in our annual plan. This financial year alone, the Ministry of Land Reform

plans to remove eight identified illegal fences in the regions of Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Zambezi, Omusati, Kavango, Omaheke and Kunene, he added. Apart from the removal of all illegal fences, Matongela said they have in the ministry's annual plan an aspect to create awareness on illegal fencing that the ministry will carry out jointly with the

Ministry of Safety and Security.

He said the campaign's aim is to inform the public about what constitutes an illegal fence, what needs to be fenced off in communal areas and certainly explaining to the public the entire process of fencing in general and the legislative penalties as outlined in the legal instrument. So in a nutshell, we are on course as per the wishes of the President

for us to put our shoulders to the wheel and start implementing laws prohibiting illegal fencing in various communal areas of our country, he said.

The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) coordinator on land, environment and development, Willem Odendaal, during the second land conference strongly called for the removal of illegal fences in communal areas, saying they increase inequality between Namibians - those that can afford fencing materials and those fenced out.

He said illegal fencing in communal areas increase grazing pressure and degrade the remaining commonage. Odendaal said illegal fencing in communal areas does not only affect grazing for the poor but it also prohibits poor people

from accessing firewood, thatching grass and even veld food that the poorest members of traditional communities depend on for their livelihood.

He said if ignored, illegal fencing is effectively rewarded � ensuring that people who fenced off areas have access to some part of the commonage. Odendaal said every communal land board must produce a map of all legal fences and make

it available to the public by 30 November in order to hold traditional authorities and communal land boards accountable.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia