Court orders eviction of N#Jaqna invaders
The High Court has ordered the eviction of 22 illegal land invaders from the N#Jaqna Conservancy.
The illegal settlers were given 60 days from the date of the court order to remove their fences and livestock, before vacating the area.
The court order is effective from 18 August.
If they fail to do this, the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board and the Ministry of Land Reform have been authorised and ordered to forcibly remove the fences, livestock and occupiers.
The matter was brought to the High Court in 2013 by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), on behalf of its client, the N#Jaqna Conservancy Committee.
There were 36 respondents, including the 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 LAC said in a statement this week that the timeous court order underscores the sentiment expressed by Environment and Tourism Minister, Pohamba Shifeta, when he stated that ministry “will not tolerate the abuse of communities in conservancies by invaders”, which is a positive indication of the growing support from government for those vulnerable communities whose communal land and conservancy resources have been usurped by illegal occupiers.
“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,” LAC Director Tony Hancox said.
“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.”
The main objectives of the N#Jaqna Conservancy are to re-establish optimum game populations, through good management practices, as well as to ensure that the benefits derived from the utilisation of the natural resources are delivered to all members of the conservancy.
The natural resources are optimally utilised through such activities as tourism and trophy hunting, thereby also mitigating wildlife-human conflict.
The sustainable harvesting of Devil’s Claw, as well as the jobs created through the trophy hunting and tourism, had resulted in a significant positive impact on the livelihoods of the !Kung San.
Since 2006, the San’s right to land use in the former Western Bushmanland has been challenged by a Ministry of Lands and Resettlement proposal to resettle small-scale farmers in the N#Jaqna Conservancy.
The conservancy was gazetted by parliament in 2003, as provided for under the Nature Conservation Amendment Act 5 of 1996.
Members of the conservancy are mainly San, and although the Amendment Act does not give ownership of the conservancy land to the community, it does give them the legal right to use the natural resources of the land.