Ovaherero Traditional Authority Secretary General, Dr Mutjinde Katjiua, has described Thursday’s clash between soldiers and desperate communal farmers who were seeking grazing land for their starving animals on the corridors of Namibian Defence Force farms near Karibib in the Erongo region as “horrific.”
Katjiua said the unfortunate incident was the most severe he has seen in the country since independence in 1990.
Reports stated that soldiers at the Karibib army base ran amok on Thursday beating up desperate communal farmers who were attempting to find fodder for their animals.
The Windhoek Observer has seen pictures of farmers who were beaten up by members of the Namibian Defence Force after the army drove around the corridors in a military vehicle, intimidating and threatening them.
Other accounts from the area suggest that one farmer had his arm broken and others had been detained during a clash.
“Why would government deploy the army against defenceless farmers? It’s like we are under a state of emergency,” Katjiua said.
He said the incident which comes shortly after the fatal shooting of a Zimbabwean taxi driver by a member of the NDF makes it seem as if government is preparing itself to beat up people not happy with it.
“This is unconstitutional and we cannot tolerate that,” he said. “This government is no longer different from the notorious and brutal apartheid regime that terrorised our people in the streets and villages. It is a government that has declared war against citizens.”
Opposition leader McHenry Venaani said he had visited the area on Wednesday to assess the situation of the communal farmers, mostly from Omatjete, who have trekked nearly 100km to find grazing in the railway corridor between Omaruru and Kranzberg near Usakos.
Venaani told a media conference this week that about 100 farmers in the area are stranded with 1,480 cattle, about 20 donkeys, 10 horses, 60 small stock with no help even though there is “ample grazing land” on the airbase farm which could assist in providing temporary grazing land for these farmers’ cattle.
He said he paid the airbase a visit to meet the commander to try and find a solution for the famers, as many of their cattle are about to die. The commander was, however, not present.
“As a shadow leader in this country, I was received outside of the base, under a tree. I was told, “No, you don’t have permission; you must have a letter to enter the base.”
Venaani challenged President Hage Geingob to visit the area to witness first-hand the situation on the ground and understand how serious things are getting.
“These farmers have been stranded there for months and no government official or governor has paid them a visit or tried to help them in any way,” the opposition leader said.
“President Hage Geingob, my brother, don’t hold town hall meetings, use your helicopter and go to where the farmers are, on their farms, so you can see for yourself and engage with them directly. Go to Omatjete, go to Kunene….”