Ju/’hoansi Traditional Authority engages lawyers to address land rights

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Staff Reporter
Windhoek

Since 2009, the Ju/’hoansi Traditional Authority and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy Community have endeavoured to reclaim the rights to their land and resources. Their rights and land have been continuously infringed upon and ignored since the well documented invasion of farmers into the area, says the Ju/’hoansi Traditional Authority.

The authority adds that in the Kavango regions and previously in Nyae Nyae such invasions had been swiftly dealt with. Land and resource rights are taken very seriously in Namibia and flaunting such rights cannot be tolerated, otherwise, it will lead to an anarchy whereby people just grab land and resources illegally. However, in Nyae Nyae, the authority says despite attempts to engage the invading community, and then the authorities, ultimately laying the situation at the justice system’s feet has not had the same desired effect. There has been a real lacklustre reaction from the authorities as well as the justice system and the people in these marginalised communities have been failed completely.  

The Nyae Nyae community are the responsible custodians of their land and resources and have been gazetted as both a conservancy and community forest. However, despite this, neither the Ministry of Environment and Tourism nor the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry have come to their defence in supporting the legislation under which Nyae Nyae was gazetted and which gave them the legal right to utilise the resources in the area, says the Ju/’hoansi Traditional Authority.

This means that a very unwelcome situation has arisen, where the people who are legally on the land and utilising the resources sustainably are having to gather their own evidence against the farmers who are knowingly grazing their cattle illegally without regard for the sustainability of the resources, while the authorities and ministries have just looked on.

Now, after all other attempts have failed, the chief has engaged legal support to initiate civil cases against six farmers, which has finally been met with a response. This is welcomed and it is hoped that a swift resolution is found and enacted in order to restore the rights and respect for the Ju’hoansi community that they deserve.

The chief says: “Like our neighbours in Na Jaqna, we have been tolerant and followed due process but it did not have the desired effect. We have been forced to take this civil action to ensure that our land and resources are returned to the community to whom they rightfully belong. We are ready to take our case to the International Courts if necessary.”

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