Namibian court sets aside expropriation of four German-owned farms
Judges rule that the government has right to expropriate property but this time had infringed on fundamental rights.
Windhoek -- A court in the south-west African state of Namibia set aside orders for the expropriation of four white-owned farms as part of the country's land reform programe, ruling the farmers' rights had been violated.
In its judgment handed down Wednesday the High Court in the capital Windhoek upheld "the right of government to expropriate property" in order to "correct imbalances of the past in respect of ownership of land."
But the way in which the state carried out the expropriation orders had infringed the farmers' fundamental rights, the court found.
The three Germans who brought the case were among 26 commercial farmers who were issued with expropriation orders in May 2004.
Only a handful of the farms have actually been expropriated, leaving around 4,500 commercial farmers - about a third of German descent - on the land.
The farmers argued the expropriations were illegal after then lands minister and now President Hifikepunye Pohamba gave the order for their forced sale solely on the basis of a cabinet decision.
The Agricultural Land Reform Act of 1995 demands that the farm's potential for resettlement be assessed before it be targeted for expropriation.
Namibia, a former German colony that was administered for a while by apartheid-era South Africa before independence in 1990, aims to buy up about 15 million hectares of a total 36 million hectares of commercial farmland over the coming decade to resettle 27,000 disadvantaged families.
Expatica with DPA