52nd Namibian farmer killed since 1991 in 69 attacks on commercial farms: (Namibia has a total 4,200 white commercial farmers)
Afrikaner-Namibian farmer Piet van Helsdingen, 49, stabbed to death near Gobabis April 17 2012
19.04.2012 by Denver Kisting, The Namibian.
Farmer Piet van Helsdingen (49) had gone to help a neighbour on his farm on Tuesday April 17 2012. While there, he spotted a former seasonal farm labourer, said the Omaheke Police Commissioner Josephat Abel.
This former labourer had allegedly stole a bicycle from one of Van Helsdingen’s workers. Abel said Van Helsdingen confronted the former worker, who drew a knife and stabbed the farmer twice in the head. Van Helsdingen was rushed to Gobabis where he was stabilised and transferred to Windhoek. He died on the way to Windhoek.
Abel said witnesses who tried to come to Van Helsdingen’s rescue attacked the labourer with sticks. The suspect is being treated under police guard in the Gobabis State Hospital for these injuries. However -- no one else was arrested, Commissioner Abel said. “They were protecting the deceased and will be used as State witnesses.”
It is not clear when the suspect will appear in court.
51 COMMERCIAL FARMERS KILLED SINCE 1991 IN AT LEAST 69 ATTACKS ON COMMERCIAL FARMERS IN NAMIBIA OUT OF A TOTAL OF 4,200 WHITE COMMERCIAL FARMERS IN NAMIBIA:
Sakkie Coetzee of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) said: “It is tragic that murder has become a solution when there are differences.” The union does not want to comment further on the matter pending the Police investigation, he said. “We need to give the Police a chance to wrap up their investigation.”
Earlier this month, The Namibian reported that 51 farmers had been killed since 1991 in at least 69 attacks on commercial farms.
Comprehensive lists kept by the NAU show that 17 people were killed in attacks on commercial farms between 1991 and 2000, and 34 since then.
In eight of these cases, husbands and wives were both murdered.
Statistics dating back to 2000 show that the oldest farmer murdered was Lottie Jooste (89), who died after three attackers overpowered her on the farm Riksburg near Karibib in November 2009.
Namibia has a landmass of approximately 824 000 km², of which 114 500 km² (13.9% of total area) are national parks, 21 600 km² (2.5%) are a restricted ‘Diamond Area’, 469 100 km² (57.0%) are title deed in freehold land and 218 300 km² (26.5 %) are non-title deed in communal land. The latter two, freehold and communal land, totalling 687 400 km² or 83.5% of the
country’s landmass, are considered to be available for agricultural land use. Namibia as a whole has a dry climate with an annual rainfall ranging from 650 mm in the
far north-east to less than 50 mm in the south-west. Based on rainfall and evaporation to determine the number of days favourable for plant growth, the country was divided into 11
growing-period zones, starting with No. 1 in the north-west and ending with No. 11 in the Namib Desert area. The national parks, Diamond Area and non-title deed (communal) land
in effect all belong to the Government.
There are approximately 10 900 title deed portions outside municipal areas, but for the purpose of extensive agriculture, as practised under Namibian climatic conditions, only
those exceeding 3 000 ha are considered as economically viable farms. There are 6 010 of these title deed farms of more than 3 000 ha each, with a total surface area of 424 700 km² (the
4 890 remaining title deeds are plots and small farms, representing approximately 44 400 km² or 6.4% of the land normally referred to as ‘agricultural land’). This figure (424 700 km²) forms
the basis of the following discussion. The distribution of this 424 700 km² is as follows:
4,200 White individuals own a total of 170 000 km², or 40% of title deed land, 24.7% of agricultural land and 20.6% of Namibia’s land surface.
Companies own 63 200 km², or 14.9% of title deed land, 9.2% of agricultural land and 7.7% of Namibia’s land surface. In many cases the company ownership is not known,
but could include any combination of white and black Namibians and foreigners.
The commercial farming sector is well developed, capital-intensive and export oriented. Commercial area livestock production accounts for 69% of national agricultural output (Directorate of Planning, 1999) and comes from 52% of the farming/grazing land. The freehold area is divided into 6 337 farms (1992 data), with an average size of 5 700 ha, owned by about 4 200 individuals or agricultural enterprises.
Cattle are predominant in the northern parts of the country where the rangelands generally have a higher carrying capacity. Beef cattle ranching is the largest contributor to commercial farming income, and the major breeds are Brahman, Afrikaner and Simmentaler. Sheep are largely concentrated in the drier south and are mostly the Karakul, bred mainly for its pelt, and the Dorper for meat production. Goats are more widely distributed and the main breeds are the Boergoat and the Angora. Grazing livestock are raised under extensive ranching conditions, relying on natural pasture occasionally supplemented by protein/mineral licks. Ostriches are farmed in the drier parts of the country and also utilise natural vegetation, supplemented by fodders and concentrates.
The commercial areas are divided into fenced ranches, further subdivided into a number of paddocks, through which some form of rotational grazing is normally practised. Compared to the communal areas, stocking rates tend to be more conservative but fire has generally been excluded, cutting for fuel or building has been minimal, there are fewer browsing animals and there is less mobility in response to rainfall spatial variation. Consequently, large areas of the medium to higher rainfall savannas have become severely bush infested, to the detriment of the grazing potential for cattle and sheep. In response, there has been a marked increase in game farming and wildlife tourism in the commercial areas, in recognition of the difficulties and consequences of farming with mono-specific (grazer) domestic stock.
The communal areas occupy about 48% of the total farming area of Namibia and hold approximately 62% of the total cattle population, 72% of the goats and 17% of the sheep (see Table 2). They differ markedly from the freehold areas in their production systems, objectives and property rights; only the cropping areas are normally allocated to individual households, while the grazing areas tend to be shared by members of a community. The communal areas also encompass a wide range of environmental conditions and ethnic groups