Army major general of the Grootfontein army base Thomas Hamunyela is being accused of illegally fencing off a large tract of land, estimated at 80 hectares in size, enclosing much of the communal grazing land in Kavango West.
Villagers at Sivaradi are unhappy with the fence, which they allege was done in cahoots with the Chief of Mbunza Traditional Authority, Alfons Kaundu.
Hamunyela has denied that the land is fenced off illegally saying he got the land from the villagers. He said he only instructed his workers to fence off a small area big enough to serve as enclosure for his calves.
“The chief did not give me that land, it was one community member who showed me the land that I can fence off,” said Hamunyela, who on Friday came to Rundu from Grootfontein to explain the fenced off land to the media.
Chief Kaundu said he only gave Hamunyela his own land where he once had his homestead at Mburundu village. “I have not seen the area that the [major] general has [allegedly] fenced off. I just heard about it and I tried getting hold of him so that he can go and show me, but he always says he is going out of the country and I should wait until he gets back. I want him to go [and] show me that land because I never gave him that land, and he must remove his fence. We only allow people to fence [crop] fields, their homestead and kraal, not what he did,” Kaundu said.
“I remember when he came to me and asked me to give him a place where he could build his kraal and home, saying he wants to bring his cattle to graze in our area, as they are facing grazing land difficulties in the north and I told him I can only give you maybe my old place where you can settle then he said he also needed a field and I gave him my old mahangu field and he took it. I did not take him to where he fenced off,” said Kaundu.
New Era visited the area that Hamunyela is alleged to have fenced off illegally and a worker on the site confirmed that the area belongs to Hamunyela. An NDF white land cruiser was parked on the site where a house is being constructed.
Hamunyela, who earlier drove to Rundu just to answer to the media, later called to demand that no pictures of his property should be taken. “You must take out that film, don’t put my house and things in the newspaper or TV, I will sue you, that is private property,” Hamunyela said on the phone.