Land disputes at a village along the border between Ongandjera and Uukwambi traditional authorities prompted dozens of people from Ondjungulume village to flee their homesteads recently.
A number of women, men and children fled to Oshakati last Friday, abandoning their homesteads and other property, saying they feared for their lives.
The group claims to have fallen victim to tribal conflict instigated by some Oshingandjera-speaking people, who are accusing them of settling on their tribal land.
The settlers claim they occupied stretches of land near Ondjungulume village, which is under the traditional authority of Chief Herman Ipumbu of the Uukwambi. Ondjungulume village, which according to the locals, is in on the side of Uukwambi.
Those who fled to Oshakati last week include some of the people that were displaced from Ompumbu, Okakukiipupu and Okakukanangula villages after their villages were incorporated into the boundaries of Oshakati Town Council.
Gabriel Angula, one of the group members, said: “Two years after we had settled at Ondjungulume, the Aangandjera started accusing us of taking over their land and told us to go and report ourselves at the palace, as the village where we had settled was Onanyalala, not Ondjungulume, as we thought.
“They said Onayalala was part of Ongandjera tribal land. They said we needed to go and kneel down in front of the king and beg him for forgiveness and for admission in Ongandjera tribal authority.”
The new villagers allegedly refused and suggested that it would be better if the Ongandjera Traditional Authority engages Uukwambi Traditional Authority to sort out the matter.
The situation deteriorated rapidly last week when a group of about 70 men and one woman allegedly invaded their village and started to destroy fences. “They tied one end of a chain to a [Toyota] Land Cruiser and the other end to the first pole of the fence and then they would drive and pull it out,” explained one member of the group that fled.
The group allegedly also attempted to drive away with one of the settler’s vehicles, but the owner managed just in time to pull out the car keys through the window before it could be driven away.
The new villagers were also ordered to close down the cuca-shops that they had recently set up. They now claim that they fear for their lives, as the threats they have been enduring from people in the neighbouring traditional authorities since 2011 have taken a turn for the worst.
Omusati Regional Police spokesperson, Lineekela Shikongo told New Era that two cases of malicious damage to property and theft have been reported to the police in this regard.
The incident allegedly took place at Ondjundgulume village and Iinyosha cattle post. Shikongo, however refused to provide further details concerning the situation, saying only that the police is investigating the matter.
Chief Ipumbu was not prepared to moment, maintaining only that he is still looking into the matter, and would be in a position to comment once investigations are concluded.