Twenty-two villagers – among them a 14-year-old teenager – detained on allegations of having destroyed a communal fence at Elavi West village each paid bail of N$800 when they appeared in the Tsumeb Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday, resulting in a collective bail amount ofN$17 600 bail that was posted by the 22 villagers, who were accused of malicious damage.
They were arrested a week ago on charges that they took the law into their own hands after allegedly removed a fence belonging to Jonas Shiningeni in the presence of the police, as a result of which they face a charge of malicious damage to private property after the complainant filed the charge with the police.
The case was remanded to December 8 for further police investigations.
According to Oshikoto police’s community affairs office, Chief Inspector Stephans Nuui, the land in question was allegedly given to Shiningeni by the Ondonga Traditional Authority, but many members of community are clearly against the decision, hence their decision to forcefully remove the contentious fence at Elavi West.
However, villagers who spoke to New Era recently claim they are not against anyone residing in the area, but they are agitated by individuals who are the fencing off large tracts of land in the area and enclosing most of the grazing and water points. They allege a radius of 50 kilometres of communal land has been fenced off by various individuals who are being resettled in the area of Elavi.
Back in 2004 the villagers destroyed a fence of a certain Kalifonia, who had also fenced off an large area. The tension resurfaced in 2007 when various farmers started drifting into the area, creating fierce competition over grazing and water.