Stop our suffering, urge Hai//om
Tuesday, December 19, 2000 - Web
posted at 9:09:01 AM GMT
THE Hai//om San
tribe plans another protest outside the entrance to the Etosha National Game
Park to again highlight their plea for the return of ancestral land.
The San tribe held a similar
demonstration almost four years ago but 73 of their members ended up in Police
cells for six months.
They were eventually released.
The 2 000-strong Hai//om tribe
under headman Willem /Aib wrote to The Namibian this week reminding Government
that they are still in the same boat as before Independence."
"We Hai//om people just hear
that we are independent.
But we say we are not independent.
If you want to see, come to
Oshivelo and see.
We are not politicians.
We don't politic.
We are going back to Etosha.
If anyone dies for this, he/she
can die," they vow in the letter.
Since 1993 the Hai//om tribe has
pressed Government to return their ancestral land in the vicinity of Ombika,
Outjo, Otavi, Otjiwarongo, Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Oshivelo.
Now they are even willing to leave
Namibia to settle on land elsewhere."
"If you don't have any place
for us, please send us away to any country like Angola or Germany.
We are suffering too much.
We are asking the Government to
take a look at these facts.
We cannot suffer in a democratic
and independent country," they say.
The Hai//om community say they
"want Etosha back"."
"We have waited 10 years for
the answer but the Government is quiet.
We were shot for our land and our
leader [/Aib] was captured with us," they emphasise, referring to the
January 1997 case.
They were arrested after they
piled tree trunks and rocks at the two gates - Ombika and Namutoni - leading
into Etosha and physically prevented visitors from entering the park by
standing in front of the gates with bows and arrows at the ready.
Members of the tribe say it was a
peaceful demonstration intended to show their strong feelings on the land
However, Police from Otjiwarongo,
Tsumeb and Outjo moved in and arrested 73 demonstrators and held them at
Tsumeb and Outjo.
Some 11 San were fined N$30 or 10
days in prison for the possession of dangerous weapons.
The remaining 62 were charged with
hindering or interrupting the flow of traffic at the Ombika gate.
Assisted by the Legal Assistance
Centre of Namibia, the Hai//om succeeded in having the charges against them
But that was after six months in
prison for some who could not pay $200 bail.
While the community's brush with
the legal system may be over, their bid for land remains a burning issue.
A while ago /Aib appealed to
Government to make some of the farms recently donated to the State by business
baron Werner List available to his people.
The Hai//om headman said the more
than 21 000 hectares of farmland was in the right area for his people to be
When he donated the six farms from
the Outjo district - Nimitz, Tsumis, Dwight East, Elf, Dwight and Michael -
with a combined size of 21 003 hectares to Government, List said he would like
them to be used by the University of Namibia, the Polytechnic of Namibia and
Neudamm Agricultural College.
The businessman also proposed that
an agricultural school be developed from the 5 561-hectare Tsumis farm complex.