Officials at the Ongwediva Town Council have caught red-handed two men suspected to be part of the group vandalising the sewerage dam and its fence.
The sewerage dam on the outskirt of Ongwediva which is still under construction has been vandalised several times, exposing community members and their livestock to serious health risks.
The project is scheduled for completion before the end of 2016 at a cost of about N$6 million, but the dam and the fence have already been vandalised several times, even though the contractor is still on site.
The town council officials called the police on Tuesday evening, after they reportedly found two men with shotguns inside the fence surrounding the dam. They were also found in possession of five flamingos that they allegedly poached at the dam.
Over the last two years Ongwediva Town Council and community members of Oshinyadhila No. 1 and No. 2, Elyambala, Efidi and surroundings have been entangled in ugly squabbles and counter-accusations over the newly constructed dam.
Community members have been accusing the town council of opening up the dam for sewer water to flow into the oshanas where community members draw drinking water and graze their livestock. Community members are in fact demanding compensation from the town council, claiming that their livestock have been exposed to sewerage water. In their letter addressed to the Ongwediva Town
Council the community demanded that the council give them money to buy medicine to detox their animals.
The town council on the other hand hit back saying the community vandalised the sewerage pond to divert its water to flow into oshanas as they wanted fish from the sewerage dam.
Planning and Technical Services Officer Hesekiel Namwandi said the fence has also been cut several times, as community members graze their animals within the fence, and fish, and poach aquatic birds that prey on the fish in the dam.
A number of spent cartridges were also found near the fence and the town council suspects it is the work of poachers who have almost exterminated the once large population of flamingos around the dam.
Poaching, grazing and fishing takes place at night and over weekends when town council officials are off duty.
Ongwediva Town Council Health Inspector Penda Kashihakumwa said that a trap set by the town council proved successful and they managed to catch two men and called the police.
“This is a health hazard. The water in the dam is dirty. It is infested with viruses and bacteria. There could be a lot of fish in the water and a lot of grass but it is not for consumption. You can easily catch cholera or get diarrhoea just by consuming fish from here.”
“But the same people that we are protecting are the same people that are exposing themselves and accuse us of exposing them to sewerage water in return,” said Kashihakumwa.
Kashihakumwa said the community around Ongwediva should report to the police when they find someone selling big fish, especially if there is no evidence of where they found them.
He said fish from sewerage ponds are normally dark and give off a lot of foam when they are boiled.