Feb 11, 2014

Rehoboth Basters: Dispute Erupts Over Land Distribution

The Captains Council, which represents the Rehoboth Baster community, has come under fire from the town’s council for allocating 1072 plots of land to the people on 8 February.

Below is an article published by The Namibian:

A war over Rehoboth erven threatens to explode between members of the Baster community and the town council after the allocation of 1 072 plots to people on Saturday, a move the council described as illegal.

The residents who were allocated the plots on Saturday at  Kuvukiland and Bergershoek  locations nevertheless expressed happiness and relief at the prospect of owning land and started erecting shacks.
To the people, this was a fulfilment of a promise by the previous captain that members of the community who turned 18 years before independence would be given land. The allocation was done by prominent members of the community who said they were acting on the instructions of the captain.
But the town council’s chief executive officer, Theodor Jankowski, on Sunday described the distribution as illegal,  “This is an illegal act and all people allocated plots will have to move. The Baster Paternal Law no longer exists. Everything has to be done according to the existing laws of Namibia.”

Councillor Jan van Wyk, who represents the United People’s Movement on the council said he took part in the allocation as he himself has also been waiting for over 20 years to get his piece of land.
He further said the community had tried to get government to allocate them land and bring finality to the matter but all their efforts were in vain.

“People will be given plots from now up until April this year, and the first beneficiaries are those who have approval letters from the captain,” said Van Wyk, adding that the decision is in line with the instruction of the previous captain and approved by Cabinet following the Rukoro Report of 1992, and is, therefore, legal.

“Don’t listen to propaganda and rumours that this action is illegal, it is not illegal,” said Van Wyk. The Namibian reported that the  land-grab is meant to allocate over 2 500 unserviced plots and has been going on since the beginning of this year.

Cabinet endorsed the Rukoro Report in 1992, which stated that 3 000 unserviced erven should be given free to those displaced male residents who were born in Rehoboth and turned 18 before independence.

Jankowski accused Van Wyk of taking part in an illegal act, saying only the council has the authority to distribute land to the  people. He said the council will allocate land as they are in the process of creating reception area for the beneficiaries, and advised them to register legally. “We will fulfil part of the Rukoro Report and give people land but people must understand that they will have to move from these plots allocated to them. Some of those plots are meant for other people,” said Jankowski.

Lukas de Klerk, secretary of the Erven Committee in Rehoboth, dismissed Jankowski’s comments saying the decision to allocate the plots is legal and was approved by Cabinet under the Rukoro Report 1992.

“The Baster community will continue to receive plots and we encourage them to come forth with their approval letters so that we can place their names on the system. Do not take the council seriously when it says this is illegal, because the Baster captain still has authority and on his instructions we will finish this process,” said De Klerk.

Lameck Uyepa, who works in the directorate of regional and local government and traditional authority, said the ministry will not condone illegal land invasions. 

“We will ensure that this issue is dealt with, however, it is the local authority’s task and we can only assist financially or policy wise if needed,” said Uyepa.