Lawyer calls it quits as battle over farms Osema and Gusinde rages on

The raging battle which has pitted the ministry of land reform against Chobezi Game Farm and Safaris, chief Vipuira Kapuuo and local villagers at Ovitoto is far from over as they tussle over two farms measuring some 128 hectares 45Km east of Okahandja. 

The farms, Osema No.63 and Gusinde No. 179, drew the ire of the three aggrieved parties when they were given over to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris.

The case has now spilt into the Lands Tribunal at the action of Chobezi Game Farm and Safaris which had also applied for the farming unit.

However, a hearing on the matter scheduled for yesterday in the Lands Tribunal had to be postponed to the 16th of August after lawyer representing Chobezi, Dirk Conradie pulled out. 

They have thus been given time to seek and secure legal representation.

Meanwhile, the Ovitoto Conservancy, which represents the villagers had written to the lands minister objecting to the allocation of the said farms to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris saying that it did not exist as a registered company in the records of the ministry of trade.  

According to a media report, the owners of Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris are: Road Fund Administration CEO John Ali Ipinge (40%), Namport manager Josephine Ipupa Kasheeta (20%), 65-year-old Ovitoto 'community activist and representative' Gabriel Mureti (20%), Avani Hotel manager Erenstine Jessica Tjiundje (10%), Agra researcher Angelina Operi Kanduvarisa (3%), and the Ovitoto Community Conservancy (7%). 

The chairperson of the community conservancy, Tjeripo Tjaveondja has also cited that in a bid to prevent ongoing human-wildlife conflict it was wise that the land be allocated to them to promote community ownership of resources. 

He also pointed out that tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta, National Assembly Speaker, Peter Katjavivi as well as Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations recommended the lands minister back in 2016 supporting their application for the land in question prior to its allocation.

“It therefore baffles us that this land was allocated without even giving Ovitoto Community an opportunity to be heard by internationally omitting listing it in the pre-qualification stage,” said Tjaveondja. 

The Ovitoto communal area’s chief Kapuuo also expressed disappointment on the allocation of the two farms saying the omission of the Ovitoto community conservancy in the bidding process was deliberate.