Topnaars still at odds over chief

Topnaars still at odds over chief

MEMBERS of the Topnaar community, who for a number of years have been fighting for a change in their traditional leadership, last week had some strong words for the Minister of Regional and Local Government.

Samuel Khaxab, the man who claims to be the rightful leader of the Topnaars, along with a number of supporters, delivered a petition to Minister John Pandeni, claiming that Government has been deliberately ignoring their pleas and trying to destroy the Topnaar community. “We demand that you rectify the injustice you caused to try to destroy the Topnaar community for reasons known only to you sir,” an excerpt from his petition reads.Khaxab and his supporters have been trying to oust the current chief, Seth Kooitjie, since around 1995, he told The Namibian this week.Their claim is that Kooitjie is not of royal descent, while Khaxab is, and therefore should be recognised as chief.”At the time when Khaxab’s father died, there was no chief to be chosen from their bloodline as they were all still too young, and during that time the political powers that be chose Esau Kooitjie (father of current chief) under the former Nama Administration,” Khaxab’s spokesperson Gerald Ruiters said this week.In 2004, the Local Government Ministry sent a team to investigate the division between the two groups, but this team returned to Windhoek after Khaxab’s group said it would be able to settle their dispute with Kootjie in their own way.The then Minister, Joel Kaapanda, wrote to Khaxab, urging him and his supporters to meet with Chief Kooitjie in an effort to come up with an amicable agreement.”It is not healthy and helpful for your traditional community to live isolated.You must stand together and assist each other in order to build a united, peaceful and strong community,” Kaapanda said in his letter to Khaxab.This has not happened, however, and the groups are still at odds.”We demand the intervention of the Minister for equal status and recognition of the king elected by the Topnaar community.We demand acknowledgement from the Minister in his capacity, as the four Os [Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto regions] have all been recognised by Government,” Khaxab wrote in his petition last week.The Topnaar community reportedly number around 1 000, with about half of the group now said to be living in towns.The Kuiseb River in the Namib-Naukluft Park has been their traditional home for more than 1 000 years.Attempts to speak to either Pandeni or the Permanent Secretary of his Ministry have failed, as both were said to be unavailable this week.”We demand that you rectify the injustice you caused to try to destroy the Topnaar community for reasons known only to you sir,” an excerpt from his petition reads.Khaxab and his supporters have been trying to oust the current chief, Seth Kooitjie, since around 1995, he told The Namibian this week.Their claim is that Kooitjie is not of royal descent, while Khaxab is, and therefore should be recognised as chief.”At the time when Khaxab’s father died, there was no chief to be chosen from their bloodline as they were all still too young, and during that time the political powers that be chose Esau Kooitjie (father of current chief) under the former Nama Administration,” Khaxab’s spokesperson Gerald Ruiters said this week.In 2004, the Local Government Ministry sent a team to investigate the division between the two groups, but this team returned to Windhoek after Khaxab’s group said it would be able to settle their dispute with Kootjie in their own way.The then Minister, Joel Kaapanda, wrote to Khaxab, urging him and his supporters to meet with Chief Kooitjie in an effort to come up with an amicable agreement.”It is not healthy and helpful for your traditional community to live isolated.You must stand together and assist each other in order to build a united, peaceful and strong community,” Kaapanda said in his letter to Khaxab.This has not happened, however, and the groups are still at odds.”We demand the intervention of the Minister for equal status and recognition of the king elected by the Topnaar community.We demand acknowledgement from the Minister in his capacity, as the four Os [Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto regions] have all been recognised by Government,” Khaxab wrote in his petition last week.The Topnaar community reportedly number around 1 000, with about half of the group now said to be living in towns.The Kuiseb River in the Namib-Naukluft Park has been their traditional home for more than 1 000 years.Attempts to speak to either Pandeni or the Permanent Secretary of his Ministry have failed, as both were said to be unavailable this week.

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