By Mbatjiua Ngavirue
The decision by the head of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement in the Omaheke Region, Erastus Nghishoono, to evict Ben Enghali and Josef Enkali from his resettlement farm has erupted into a very public dispute.
The story of how the two Enkali brothers ended up settling on Nghishoono’s farm Schellenberg is however a long sorry tale that highlights some alleged abuses by Ministry of Lands and Resettlement officials in the regions.
The farming enterprise of the Enkali brothers originally started in Drimiopsis from very small beginnings – having arrived at Drimiopsis with virtually nothing in 1996 when they bought a small shop there.
While growing the shop business, they gradually started buying small stock from local farmers.
At that time, there were many other farmers at Drimiopsis, including people such as Deputy Minister of Fisheries Kilus Nguvauva, Anton Kauta and others.
When the Ministry of Regional and Local Government proclaimed Drimiopsis a village, the Village Authority decided to remove all livestock from within the village boundaries.
The Government resettled Nguvauva, Kauta and others, but for some reasons left out Josef Enkali – who runs the farming side of the business – and some other small farmers.
In 2001, the Enkalis approached J. Simataa at the Drimiopsis Resettlement Centre to apply for resettlement.
Simataa wrote a letter to then Deputy Director of Resettlement in Windhoek, Simeon Kanyemba, to inquire why the ministry did not resettle the Enkalis at the time it resettled other Drimiopsis farmers.
Enghali says he requested an appointment with Kanyemba in Windhoek, but Kanyemba told him he would see him in Gobabis when he came to the town.
The behaviour of Kanyemba when he met Enghali in Gobabis in 2002 was extraordinary by any standards.
The description of his visit to Gobabis gives the impression of a nobleman in feudal Russia sweeping into one of his remote provinces ready to arrest, or even publicly flog any insolent “peasant” who might dare to question his orders.
“I Kanyemba am the Ministry of Lands. I know the law and I am going to chase you out of Drimiopsis,” Kanyemba allegedly told Enghali.
During the meeting Kanyemba claimed he had ordered the Enkalis to move from Drimiopsis a long time ago.
He then summoned the Namibian Police to come and summarily arrest Ben Enghali there and then in his office.
Erastus Nghishoono, Frans Murangi and another female employee of the Ministry of Lands were allegedly present at this meeting, together with Kanyemba.
Shocked by Kanyemba’s behaviour, Enghali told the police officer he could not arrest him without giving him a chance to put his side of the story.
Enghali reminded Kanyemba that he only came to know about them because of the letter Simataa wrote to him requesting they be resettled, and therefore could not have told them to leave Drimiopsis a long time ago.
Members of the Namibian Police generally seem to have more commonsense than some Resettlement officials, and after hearing Enghali’s story, the policeman refused to arrest him.
“If I am going to arrest him, I will also have to arrest all the other small farmers with livestock at Drimiopsis. Where am I supposed to be keeping all these people and their livestock,” he allegedly asked Kanyemba.
Kanyemba however continued to insist the policeman must arrest Enghali because he had more livestock than the other remaining Drimiopsis farmers.
The officer said he first had to consult his superiors, since he did not know of any law under which he could arrest Enghali.
He then simply left, saying he would leave them to resolve the matter through discussion.
Annoyed by the policeman’s refusal to arrest Enghali, Kanyemba angrily told Enghali that if he did not know where to take his livestock he should sell all his animals.
Enghali says he told him he refused to do that because he might then end up squandering the money.
The next morning, Kanyemba suggested that the two of them should go to Drimiopsis together with Nghishoono to investigate the matter further.
At Drimiopsis, Simataa confirmed he sent a letter to Kanyemba long ago requesting resettlement for the Enkali brothers.
According to Enghali, it was at this point that Kanyemba allegedly turned round to Nghishoono admitting they had clearly made a mistake.
Four days after the visit to Drimiopsis, Nghishoono invited Josef Enkali to come and see his farm Schellenberg where he allegedly offered the Enkalis a place to farm.
According to a Mi-nistry of Lands and Re-settlement insider, Simeon Kanyemba was due to have retired from the ministry but was apparently offered a one-year extension by Permanent Secretary Frans Tsheehama.
This insider alleges Deputy Minister Isaack Katali flew into a rage when he heard about Kanyemba’s one-year contract extension.
Kanyemba could not be reached for comment yesterday. He retired at the end of February this year.