Desperate part-time livestock owners in the Erongo Region are spilling over onto municipal townland with their animals and possessions, as the severe drought has farmers scrambling for emergency grazing, sometimes with tempers flaring and accusations illegal invasions and even land grabbing flying about.
One such case has led to prominent Usakos smallstock farmer Wilfred Wiese filing complaints of illegal land invasion with the Usakos police. But to no avail, he says. Wiese says he is fed up after discovering another illegal invader on a piece of land outside the town, which he applied in April 2015 to rent for emergency grazing purposes.
“But no reply was ever since communicated to me,” he laments, providing New Era with letters of application. “During that time, I already found illegal grazing of livestock by a certain Valletjies Brockerhoff for longer than a year without any authorisation or any payment.
“Brockerhoff had at that time already more that 120 cattle and about 60 sheep/goats grazing on that land. That was reported to both the Usakos police station and the town council, but a blind eye was turned on this case. Brockerhoff has no farmland of his own and is still occupying that land. Brockerhoff started with this and more are following suit now, destroying the last vegetation on the land,” Wiese complained.
Now he is faced with a newcomer on the same piece of land, who also refuses to move. “On Saturday, June 4, I observed a cattlepost on Usakos townlands, next to the B2 and between Usakos and Kranzberg. I visited the site and found a newly established cattlepost, consisting of a cattle kraal, a sheep kraal, water tanks and caravan from the shepherd, Simon.
“When I spoke to Simon (an Ovahimba man) he said the post belongs to a certain Abner Kheibeb from Karibib, and that the post contains 74 head of cattle and 150 sheep. Simon gave me Kheibeb’s cell number and got very aggressive when I talked to him. “No one will remove me from that post. Come what may,” Kheibeb allegedly told Wiese.
Kheibeb, alias Fykie, works at the mine near Karibib. New Era traced Fykie Kheibeb via telephone, whereupon he admitted to occupying the land since the said date, but explained that he is in the process of moving all his animals and the cattlepost and caravan as soon as he has found another piece of land for his animals.
“I’m just temporarily here as a matter of desperation. I will move all my belongings soon. Until then I have nowhere to go,” he said. Wiese says the ignoring of his applications by the town council and also the lack of action by Usakos police are most disappointing.
“When I spoke to the police commander, he said the town council should lay a charge and then they will act, but until today no such charges were ever laid. In my opinion this illegal invasion and occupation of townlands are unlawful actions – the same as land grabbing,” he opined.