Erongo farmer assaulted over grazing in communal area

By Jade McClune

IT appears the lingering drought is contributing to rising tensions among communal farmers after a 60-year-old farmer in the Erongo region filed assault charges on the grounds that he was attacked and badly beaten up by two brothers while grazing his livestock on a communal farm near Usakos last week.

Medusalem Gariseb told Confidente that since 2001 he had been peaceably grazing his animals in the area near Sukses, located some 60km east of Arandis in the direction of Usakos, and had obtained permission to do so from the !Oe#Gan Traditional Authority. “I have the right to farm there, because it is not private property, he said last week.

According to the alleged assault victim, he was confronted last week by a certain Manfred (Mannetjie) Maletzky over a sheep that had gone missing, which Maletzky reportedly claimed had been stolen by one of Gariseb’s relatives, but there was no evidence to that effect, Gariseb insisted.

On 13 July, he met Maletzky at a waterpoint at Erica Post near Sukses, where they again argued over the missing sheep, and Gariseb assumed that “the matter had been resolved and ended there”. However, barely an hour later, a brother of Maletzky by the name of Hartmut arrived.

He says Hartmut Maletzky must have been contacted by phone by his brother, as he arrived within an hour after the exchange with Manfred, having driven some 15km to get to the place where Gariseb was busy tending to his animals.

Gariseb, a pensioner living at Arandis, said Hartmut Maletzky then without saying a word proceeded to punch him in the face. “He did not listen to anything. He just walked straight up to me and punched me with the fist. Then when I fell down he kicked me in the face and put his boot on my neck.”

Gariseb says while on the ground he was told by Hartmut: “You dogs, the day you came here was the day when things started going wrong.”

The elderly man, who suffered severe bruises to his face and body, added that Hartmut proceeded to kick him in the ribs while Gariseb was on the ground.

Hartmut then allegedly grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and dragged him along the ground. They also broke his glasses, he said.

They then took a picture at the place they had dragged him to, and went to file a charge that they had found him in their camp, Gariseb complained. “But this is not private property, this is government property and I have permission from the traditional authority to graze my animals here.”

A letter from !Oe#Gan Traditional Authority, dated 19 July 2019, says about Farm Sukses that it “is part and parcel of the communal land that resides under the traditional authority.” Signed by Theophellus Gurirab, a representative of Chief Immanuel !Gaseb, it also confirmed that the farm is administered in terms of communal and customary land rights and is certainly not private property.

Officials at Usakos Magistrate’s Court meanwhile confirmed that the brothers Manfred and Hartmut Maletzky had been brought before court on charges of common assault on 19 July. They were released that same day on bail of N$500 each.

The case will next be heard on 27 August.