Infighting at Neu-Sommerau as 4 000 farmers crowd farm

by Obrein Simasiku

Tsumeb

Farmers at farm Neu-Sommerau are fighting each other over grazing land with multiple individuals claiming ownership to the grazing area and denying others access.

Complicating the matter is the fact that the farmers who have been legitimately resettled on the farm are without valid documents, and it is impossible to distinguish them from the recent arrivals who have resettled themselves illegally.



Farm Neu-Sommerau was bought by the government in 2001 to resettle people that were squatting along the Otavi-Grootfontein railway line.

The farm size is estimated at approximately 9 000 hectares and is situated in the Kombat area in Otavi Constituency. There are now 4 000 farmers on the farm, many of whom arrived in recent years because of the prevailing drought.

The farm is divided in two sections, the livestock section measuring 7 000 hectares and crop section measuring 2 000 hectares.
The most recent fight was among a family of eight who claim to have been residing at the farm since 2002 as brothers and in-laws, but now are in a conflict over who is the legitimate owner of portion 1359 of Neu-Sommerau. The eldest son Lambert Pollmann maintains he is the legitimate owner.

However, the Ministry of Land Reform’s development planner, Johannes Hango, assigned to Neu-Sommerau to monitor developments on the farm, said that Pollmann does not have any documents to prove his ownership. And neither does anyone else on the farm have any documentation to prove ownership.

“The mistake comes a long way back when these people were resettled by the former governor [Grace Uushona] and not given lease agreements or any documents legitimising their stay, so now we as the ministry find it difficult to know who was legally allowed to be resettled and those that just invaded space. So there is no way we can issue any lease certificates considering that the farm is overcrowded, which makes it even more difficult,” stressed Hango.

He said they are initiating meetings with the farm inhabitants to reach consensus on what is to be done, and it is through this meeting that they will determine those who settled on the farm without permission.

Contacted for comment, Pollmann was adamant that he was rightfully resettled despite the ministry denying this.

“During the time of governor Uushona is when I was resettled here – these people who are now creating problems for me are my extended family and they came here because I wanted to help them back then because of the drought. They came from the Tsintsabis area from another family farm. Now they are here claiming they have been resettled which is not the case,” explained Pollmann.

He further explained that the issue is caused by the “excessive grass-cutting and baling” by his extended family who are exhausting grazing area for his cattle, something which is not taken lightly by others on the farm as well.

The grass which they cut is normally used as part of the development programme of the farm unit in order to feed animals during drought.

In this regard Hango said the issue is already in the hands of the council and ministry and will soon be dealt with accordingly.

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