Land dispute pits son against mother

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An 81 year-old sickly mother and a resident of Omundaungilo village, Dortea Shafooli, is drawn into a land dispute after her elderly son, Werner “Mbishi” Nanghala, sold a large part of their land to another person.

Maria Nanghala, a sister to Werner and a daughter to Dortea Shafooli, related to this reporter that the piece of land was transferred to Dortea’s name after Dortea’s mother died in 1998 as she was a widow.
Maria explained that after her elder brother Werner got married in 1989, as a custom, the family allocated him a section of the less than 20-hector land to cultivate on. The traditional border of that original piece of land is demarcated by a fence which has been authorized by the village headman, Efraim Haihambo.
Without informing the family and his mother or her representative Maria, Werner secretly sold the piece of land he was allowed to cultivate to the married couple Ismael and Karolina Nghipewa in July 2011. Ismael works for the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) and his wife as a teacher at Omundaungilo Combined School. It was sold for N$30,000.
 After failed attempts to find an amenable solution, Maria advised the headman to refer the matter to the Omundaungilo village committee one month later, which decided that the disputed piece of land should be given to Ismael Haufiku and Karolina Nghipewa who bought it from Werner.
Maria appealed the judgment at a higher level called “Ediko Lomukunda” (Village Council) that confirmed the verdict. Maria appealed further to the Ohangwena Traditional Council.
The appeal hearing finally reached the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority (OTA) in which the previous verdict was spectacularly overturned and the land was returned to Dortea, as represented by Maria.
Maria however received a letter of summon from the chairperson of the Ohangwena Communal Land Board, signed by one Johanna Shanyengana, to attend a hearing on 22 November 2011. In a reversal of fortune, the Board again overturned the OTA judgement and declared that Nghipewa is the rightful land owner.
On 6 December at 9h00am, Omundaungilo police informed members of the Dortea family that they will carry out the verdict as is.
Maria claims that the appeal hearing at the Ohangwena Communal Land Board was neither free nor fair as she was not allowed to present her case, including providing or producing any documentary proof and call witnesses as well as to hear the other parties’ presentation.