Illegal communal land sales unearthed

26 September 2018 | Local News

In 2012, Ndinelago Penehupifo Mockachwa decided to sell a portion of her mahangu field at Ohakweenyanga village near Ongwediva to a businessman Tobias Kuutumbeni for N$230 500.

The Oukwanyama Traditional Authority refused to issue Kuutumbeni a leasehold right, because he did not get consent from the Ohakweenyanga village headman.

Kuutumbeni told Ewi lyaNooli that in 2015 he paid senior headman for the Onamutayi district, Amon Shipanga, and Ohakweenyanga village headman Daniel Kayili to acquire the leasehold right.

“On the 24 September 2012, I bought a piece of land from Miss Mockachwa at the agreed price of N$230 500, which I paid in full. Kayili refused to give me a letter so that I can get the leasehold right from the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority. On 1 June 2015 Kayili took me to Shipanga so that I can get the leasehold right,” Kuutumbeni said.

“Shipanga then requested me to first pay him N$5 000 in cash and to excavate an earthen dam for him at his homestead at Onamutayi. I paid the amount in full and I also completed the excavation of the dam to the value of N$195 000. On 25 September 2015 I also paid Kayili N$11 000 and he issued me with the leasehold right.”

Shipanga confirmed the payments, while Kayili at first he refused to issue the leasehold right to Kuutumbeni.

“At first I did not wanted to get implicated in the illegal sale of land and that is why I refused to issue him with a consent letter to occupy land in my village. Sales of communal land are illegal and if anything goes wrong, as a village headman, I will be implicated. I only gave him permission after the senior headman get involved,” Kayili said.

He said Mockachwa illegally sold the land.

Approached for comment, Mockachwa said she sold it because she had problems she wanted to solve.

The portions she sold were priced, depending on her problems.

“When my husband died, my children and I were in poverty and that is why I decided to sell our mahangu field, so that we can solve our poverty problems. The land is strategically located and the demand was high, as many people were willing to pay,” Mockachwa said.

Oshana governor Clemens Kashuupulwa urged community members and the traditional authority to refrain from illegal land sales.

“According to the Act, the money that one needs to pay to acquire land is only N$600. Anything more than that is illegal and must not be accepted,” Kashuupulwa said.

“Those who are also buying communal land to establish projects must at first approach the regional government or communal land board for advice, otherwise if trouble comes, we will not know how to help them. We are not against development, but there are rules and procedures that need to be followed.”

In 2016, Namibian Sun reported that illegal communal land sales had sparked tension between the communal land board, traditional authorities, landowners and service providers, such as the Roads Authority (RA), Telecom, NamWater, NamPower and Nored.

At the time, lives were being threatened as communal landowners continued to sell large tracts of land in dangerous areas, while service providers said land allocation in rural areas is a serious concern, because houses and other buildings are denying them access to their facilities.

This was exposed at a meeting organised by the Oshana Communal Land Board near Ongwediva. The meeting was attended by members of the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority, the Namibian police, communal landowners and parastatal service providers.

During the meeting, Shipanga said communal landowners made it difficult for the authority to control and maintain communal land. He said they are selling land without consent.

“Landowners are selling land wherever, without consulting us. They are selling it at high prices and that makes us powerless to stop them. When landowners are coming to inform us, they have already accepted money. There are some cases pending where landowners have been summoned for the illegal land sales,” Shipanga said.

Land board chairperson Reinhold Iita told the meeting that lodges and big businesses established on communal land are illegal and he ordered RA and the traditional authority to demolish them.

“Only the communal land board has the power to give land for lodges and businesses. All of those we see between Ondangwa and Ongwediva are illegal and we will have them demolished,” Iita said at the time.

ILENI NANDJATO

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