TO an outsider, the case might at first sight seem no more than a relatively simple dispute over ownership of the land on which a shopping mall is being built. But the case of Stantoll v Johannes involves far more complex issues than that. It is also about the difficulties surrounding state expropriation of land and subsequent expectations of compensation, at a time when this is a hot issue in many African countries.
THE case that initially sparked all the trouble involves a property developer and members of an extended family clan that used to live on the site where the development is taking place.
The disputed land lies in Ongwediva, part of Namibia’s remote, far north, an area where communal land rights are a hot issue and where the country’s ruling party has its stronghold. It’s also an area ripe for development.