High Court gives 60 days for illegal settlers
The High Court has ordered that 22 of the illegal occupiers in the N#Jaqna Conservancy must remove their illegal fences and livestock from the conservancy and vacate the areas they illegally occupied within 60 days of the granting of the order. Failure to do so, the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board and the Ministry of Land Reform has been authorised and ordered to forcibly remove the fences, livestock and occupiers.
The Director of the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) Toni Hancox in a press statement issued said that the matter was instituted in the High Court of Namibia in 2013 by the Legal Assistance Centre on behalf of its client, The N#Jaqna Conservancy Committee, against 36 respondents which includes Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, the Chairperson of the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board, The !Kung Traditional Authority, the Minister of Environment and Tourism and 32 identified individuals. The Court Order has been in motion since 18 August.
Hancox said the timorous order underscores the sentiment expressed by the Environment and Tourism Minister, Mr Pohamba Shifeta when he stated that “ we will not tolerate abuse of communities in conservancies by invaders”. She added that this serves as a positive indication of the growing support from Government for vulnerable communities whose communal land and conservancy resources have been usurped by illegal occupiers.
She further elaborated that although the outcome of the court proceedings is a positive step forward for the N#Jaqna Conservancy specifically, the Court Order has empowered other conservancies and local communities that are being denied their rights by illegal settlement, grazing and fencing.
“The Legal Assistance Centre is confident that the relevant Ministries and Authorities will act expeditiously to enforce the Order, should this become necessary and that they will continue to support and defend the rights of vulnerable communities whose constitutional rights are infringed” Hancox said in her final remarks.