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Illegal fencing remains a hot potato

14 March 2012
By: Catherine Sasman

MINISTER of Lands and Resettlement Alpheus !Naruseb yesterday admitted that there is “some degree of inconsistency” in the manner illegal fencing in communal areas is dealt with, but denied that the ministry is incapable of dealing with the matter.

The ministry by law is not authorised to remove illegal fences; this is the prerogative of the various traditional authorities presiding over communal areas alongside the communal land boards.
But so far no one has been taken to task for putting up illegal enclosures on communal land.
Those who had put up fences before the introduction of the Communal Land Reform Act were given until February 2011 to apply for the recognition and registration of their fences.
The Lands Ministry developed guidelines on the removal of the fences during the 2012/13 financial year which were to be immediately implemented, but this has been postponed to the end of February 2014, which is the deadline for the submission for existing customary land rights by the ministry.
It is a punishable offence to erect or keep unauthorised fences on communal land. It is also an offence to retain any existing fence for more than 30 days after the application to retain it has been refused by the relevant communal land board.
A violation in this regard can be punished by a maximum fine of N$4 000 or one year’s imprisonment, or both.
A chronic offender will additionally be liable to a fine of N$50 for each day the fence remains intact, and the fence must be taken down by the offender at his or her own cost.
!Naruseb yesterday urged those living in communal areas to apply for communal land registration to secure land tenure “in perpetuity”.
Such registration provides a legal documentary proof of land right, and rules out double allocations and land grabbing, the minister said.
Communal land rights are transferable from one person to another in consultation with the traditional authority, and land owners can apply for the retention of existing fences.
The application fee for communal land rights is N$25 and a certificate collection fee of N$50 is payable to the traditional authority. The fees charged for leasehold rights are payable into the Communal Land Reform Fund.

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