High Court summons Aroab farmers

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The Namibian High Court has issued a summons against 11 small-scale farmers from Aroab who are illegally occupying farm Dickbusch, a government farm in the //Kharas Region, giving them 10 days to respond and state their case as to why they should not be evicted. Failure to respond would result in the court proceeding to issue judgement without them having stated their case and in their absence if they do not show up at court.

The summons comes after several failed attempts to evict the farmers from farm Dickbusch, which the farmers have illegally occupied since last year. They have refused to leave until they are resettled, saying they have nowhere else to go.

Land reform minister Uutoni Nujoma and chairperson of the //Kharas land board, Lucia Basson, who is also the governor of the region, have taken the matter to court after the farmers refused to comply with the eviction order. Farm Dickbusch is located about 45 kilometres west of Aroab and measures about 8 400 hectares.

“Inform the defendant that if he or she fails to file and serve notice of intention to defend, judgement as claimed may be given against him or her without notice, and if she or he fails to plead, judgement may be given against him or her,” read the court papers.

Gertjie Witbooi, who is listed as the second defendant in the matter, confirmed the farmers received the court summons last week Friday, but indicated they remain unshaken and will be more than happy to go to court to state their case.

Witbooi said the group is now consulting their legal advisers and would respond to the summons within the required 10 days as indicated, further saying he is hopeful that an independent body such as the court will understand their plea for land.

“It is good that it will go to the High Court – maybe an independent body like the court will finally understand our situation. We have been suffering for too long, we need land,” he said.

The farmers illegally moved their small livestock onto the farm on October 13 last year, and have defied several calls from regional leaders to vacate the farm and follow the right procedures to acquire land. The farmers have refused to exit the farm even after eviction orders were issued against them.

The farmers, who have organised themselves under the Aroab Small Farmers Union, say they have for the past 20 years exhausted all possible legal ways to be resettled. They claim to have engaged governors and councillors on their urgent need for land, but all was in vain, saying the leaders have not kept their promises to assist them to get land, while applying has also proved to be useless as none from the group has been resettled despite regular applications.

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