Okahandja mayor Johannes Hindjou refuses to be drawn into any talk regarding the much-disputed Erf 1755. The municipality has so far been silent on the matter despite the plot falling under its jurisdiction, and has instead opted to look for cover under the wings of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development. “Ask the minister if you want any information regarding that issue, as Council we have nothing to comment,” said Hindjou when approached this week. The disputed piece of land is currently being fenced off by members of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority who claim that they are the legitimate owners of the property.
When this publication visited the property on Wednesday, several subjects of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority were busy fencing the plot while others were passing time chatting about traditional authority matters. “This is our land, if the Mahareros want to come here, they are welcome to use the plot next to ours, we will not stop them but they will not use ours,” said one of the community members who was at the site on Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the municipality Martha Mutilifa told Nampa on Thursday afternoon: “For now, just follow what the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development is saying (about the ownership of the land).” She said this when approached to comment on the ownership of the plot after the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) recently claimed it bought the land in December 2014 from the Okahandja Municipality. However, Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa on 26 August 2016 said the municipality is still the rightful owner of the land used in the past by both the OTA and Maharero Royal House Traditional Authority as the venue to commemorate their fallen heroes and heroines.
The Maharero Royal House termed the alleged sale of the land as “immoral, unprocedural and dubious”. It said in a media statement issued on Thursday the land belongs to all Ovaherero people as a collective heritage site. Spokesperson of the Maharero Royal House, Hirukeri Kaapama alleged that no consultations were held prior to the sale of Erf 1755. “Lawful procedures such as the advertisement for the sale of land for 27 days for concerned parties to raise their objections were never done. How did the Municipality of Okahandja sell land to a third party without consulting the Otjiserandu members who have been occupying this piece of land? How do you sell land to a third party on which there are existing structures of the person to whom you have leased the land for 20 years?” he asked. Kaapama further said they need the Commando and the sacred place where the ‘holy fire’ was located on that erf to continue with their commemorations in future. He further appealed to Government to come to their rescue, claiming that they are being threatened with violence by members of the OTA should they attempt to commemorate events on Erf 1755.
Kaapama added that all Commandos throughout Namibia never belonged to a particular traditional authority, but to all the Otjiserandu (Red Flag) regiments under the custodianship of its general field marshals. Commemorations, which were planned by the Maharero Royal House for 26 August 2016 on that plot were cancelled after the OTA claimed ownership of the land. The OTA subsequently started erecting a fence around Erf 1755 to keep out “invaders”.
-Additional reporting by Nampa