By Wezi Tjaronda
Authorities seem to be paying very little if no attention at all to the plight of evicted farm workers who were dumped along the roadside two years ago.
The nine workers who were evicted when Otjiku farm fell under new management (Herman Awaseb) say it never rains but pours for them because every time they experience new problems.
The eviction was implemented despite measures that the government has put in place in the form of a Temporary Policy on Eviction of Farm Workers.
In addition to this, the workers took their employer to the Labour Court and to date their case has not been finalized.
Exactly two years and two days after their eviction from the farm, where they had toiled for years including 20 years by one of the longest serving employees, the workers are still living along the roadside.
The biggest problem which the group, comprising 50 individuals, including children, youth and adults, is facing, is potable water.
“When there is no one passing by to help collect water for us, we get the water from the river.
“This is dirty water that is not fit for human consumption, especially small children whose stomachs are still fragile,” said Nicklaas Kondiuo, one of the longest serving members on the farm, who was evicted together with about six others in February 2005.
He said since January water has become scarcer and the workers rely on passersby for clean water, in the absence of which the group has resorted to the dirty water that they share with animals.
Promises of water from several authorities have come to naught, said Kondiuo, who added that little attention is being paid to their problem.
Alfred Angula, Secretary General of the Namibia Farm Workers Union, had more questions that answers when contacted by New Era on Tuesday on the wellbeing of the workers.
“It’s unacceptable. I don’t understand how the law works. Why do we leave people vulnerable for so long? Is two years of suffering perhaps not long enough to warrant resettlement?” he wondered.
Angula said this was happening despite farms being advertised now and then for resettlement.
“These people have no food and no water. And I don’t think the authorities know the state in which they are, ” he added.
Otjozondjupa regional Governor Theofilus Eiseb, under whom the evictees resort, said he was not the right person to answer queries about the workers because there were other stakeholders involved such as NAFWU, lawyers and the regional councillor.
“As a council, we are responsible for the social and economic wellbeing of the people and we provided them with a water tank and tents,” Eiseb said.
But Omatako Regional Councilor, Issaskar Kaujeua, whom the governor cited as the right person to deal with the evictees yesterday said he could only talk after meeting with the evictees.
Tired of empty promises, the evictees have called Angula and Kaujeua to a meeting that will be held this afternoon. “We want to discuss this issue with them and find a lasting solution to the problem,” said Kondiuo, adding, “If we cannot get help we will have to go higher and meet the minister.”
All the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement could say yesterday was that the ministry does not condone the eviction of farm workers but that it could not force people to adhere to these principles.
Chrispin Matongela, the ministry’s liaison officer, said if the new farm owner could not accommodate the workers, the ministry in normal cases would resettle them.
To add salt to injury, the farm owner allegedly recently assaulted one of the former workers, Manfred Kondiuo.
Otjozondjupa’s regional police crime coordinator, Chief Inspector Charles Sibolile, confirmed the incident and said the complainant had registered a case of assault with intention to cause grievous bodily harm. The case has been transferred to the Osire police.
Kondiou sustained abrasions, said Sibolile.
Sibolile said although the suspect is known, no arrests have been made yet.