Illegal farmers evicted to make way for cement factory
About 30 illegal livestock farmers have been evicted this past weekend in the pursuit for the construction of a Cheetah Cement factory, sources have revealed.
The farmers have been residing on the plot for more than 10 years despite several eviction notices served by the Otjiwarongo municipality to force them off the plot to allow for mining operations by Cheetah Cement to commence, public relations officer of Otjiwarongo municipality Adelheid Shilongo confirmed.
“We have been trying to get these farmers moved from this plot for a long time now. Some have moved but some stayed. Now the factory and the municipality have entered into a lease agreement. The management of the factory needs to start with their work this week and the farmers have been asked to move out. The farmers are on this land illegally and all of them are aware of it. We tried to get them to move away before we entered into the lease agreement with the Cheetah Cement producers,” she explained.
She said farmers who refused to comply with the eviction letters risk facing consequences.
What has made the situation worse is that the municipality does not have plots to which they can be relocated.
Shilongo further explained that the new cement factory will hold the land on a lease agreement for 50 years with the possibility of the lease being extended.
“The contract is for 50 years signed between the Cheetah Cement and Otjiwarongo municipality. The management of the factory has also engaged farmers to move their livestock and temporary illegal structures they have set up as far as they can because they will be starting with blasting of rocks to get the lime rock from which cement is produced,” she said.
She added that the farmers have been warned about the dangers of blasting and effects this has on human and livestock as well as how far they need to move from the plot before blasting starts.
However, one of the illegal farmers, Sophia /Huses said that they have nowhere to go and that they seek assistance from the government.
“I have been on this plot for nine years now and I do not know where to go from here. I am hoping the government will at least find a farm to relocate us as soon as possible. I understand that we are here illegally but I personally found all these farmers here and I too settled for the good pastures for my animals. I did apply for a resettlement farm three years back but nobody from those offices has come back to me and I also did not go back to the office to enquire whether I will be resettled or not,” she said.
Another farmer, Ephraim Nauseb said that he would not move until the municipality and the government make plans.
“I am over 70 years old. Where else can I go from here? Let someone who can help us please help us to be settled. I am just so disappointed that we have to move from here. I want to move because it is not my land but the only problem is I do not know where to move to,” he said.
The illegal famers handed over a petition to the governor’s office toady demanding that they be relocated to another area.
The Governor of Otjozondjupa, Otto Ipinge could not be reached for a comment as he was out of office when this publication sort after him.