The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) is seriously considering taking the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, to court for allowing a rival faction to host a commemoration at the disputed Erf 1755 at Okahandja.
Shaningwa in a letter approved a request by Chief Tjinaani Maharero of the Maharero Royal House (MRH) to host a commemorative ceremony of paramount chief Samuel Maharero this weekend at the controversial plot. It will be exactly 93 years since the remains of Maharero were reburied at the sacred shrine in Okahandja.
OTA spokesperson Bob Kandetu yesterday confirmed to New Era that the traditional authority has instructed its lawyers to write to Shaningwa to express its dismay over her decision to allow the commemoration at the plot, which the authority has bought from the Okahandja Municipality. “We already know what her response will be, all we want is to take the legal route,” he said, adding that otherwise they would be left with no other option but to settle the matter in court.
Kandetu said he personally called Shaningwa for verification and she confirmed approving the commemoration, citing a Cabinet directive to instruct the Okahandja Municipality to consolidate the three plots so that the MRH could use them for their commemoration this weekend.
The OTA and the MRH have been at loggerheads over who owns the land in question measuring 28,78 square metres.
This is part of the land where Red Flag Commando 1 in Okahandja has been based and where most of the vigils and burial ceremonies for Ovaherero leaders, especially those associated with the OTA, have been conducted.
Last month Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro instructed his people to demolish a corrugated iron house at night which MRH claimed belonged it so that the plot could be developed. Rukoro claimed the OTA had bought the land in question in 2014 and is thus the legitimate owner having already paid the requisite amount although the Okahandja Municipality has not yet availed it the title deed.
However, the MRH has been claiming and insisting that the sale has been dubious. A MRH representative said they have been warning the municipality since 2010 not to sell Erf 1755 to the OTA as it would “derail” the traditional pilgrimage of the Ovaherero, which has been observed for the past 93 years.
This led to the intervention of Shaningwa who had a meeting with both groups in Okahandja recently. It later transpired that a ministerial investigating team had recommended to Shaningwa to disapprove the transaction between the OTA and the Okahandja Municipality. The OTA suspects foul play on the part of Shaningwa in this regard.