13 June 2012

Namibia: Keetmans Land Grabbers Turn to President Pohamba

THE battle between the Keetmanshoop Town Council and illegal squatters who have seized council plots in the Tseiblaagte residential area continues. In the latest move, the squatters are seeking the intervention of President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

"The Ministry of Local Government has failed its community and only a political solution by the way of intervention from more senior political office bearers would properly solve the matter," said the Hendrik Tseib Community Liaison Community chairperson, Ernst Jash, on Friday.

Referring to the ongoing civil and criminal courts cases in which the council is challenging the land grab, Jash said: "As the affected community, we will not be intimidated by the outcome now or tomorrow, and we're ready to be jailed."

Jash, who is implicated in a fraud case himself, asked Magistrate Philanda Christiaan to recuse herself from the criminal case in which three squatters - Simon Isaak, Melinda Fleermuis and Sanna Katjito - are facing contempt-of-court charges for defying eviction orders.

Questioning Christiaan's impartiality because she is married to a senior municipal officer, Jash claimed that Isaak, Fleermuis and Katjito were also denied their right to legal representation.

Furthermore, Jash accused the council of "nepotism, favouritism and corruption" in the recent appointment of contract workers.

The mayor of Keetmanshoop, Moses Titus, yesterday said the council's position on the land grab remains unchanged.

"We'll not be intimidated by them," Titus said.

Titus said the squatters will be evicted within the next two weeks.

"This process was delayed because the council, out of goodwill, had allowed regional political intervention. This had also not yielded positive results, therefore council's last resort of forcible evictions is the only option left," Titus said.

Acknowledging the housing shortage at the town, Titus said the council recently handed over plots in the Illeni informal settlement in an effort to improve the situation.

Titus rejected the claims of nepotism in staff appointments as "absurd," saying the temporary staff will soon be replaced by permanent employees.

"If those who are currently employed as temporary workers apply and meet the requirements, there is nothing wrong with the council reappointing them," he said.

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