15 June 2012

Namibia: City Exposes Land Sale Racket

HELPLESS ... Yesterday morning the City Police again moved in with a bulldozer to demolish more illegal shacks in the Samora Machel Constituency near Goreangab Dam in Katutura. In the picture a mother with a baby on her back walks away disappointed after pleading with the driver of the bulldozer not to knock down her shack. The demolition was later stopped after councillors intervened. Photo: Henry van Rooi

THE Windhoek City Police have uncovered a racket in some informal settlements where fraudsters are 'selling' municipal land to unsuspecting buyers.

So far two people have been arrested and the City Police are after three more suspects who have been selling land in the Samora Machel Constituency near Goreangab Dam that does not belong to them.

Chief Inspector Gerry Shikesho of the City Police told The Namibian that the City Police arrested two women in this regard on Monday evening, and handed them over to the Namibian Police at the Wanaheda Police Station.

The two, mother and daughter Edlar Kamutuezu and Aletta Ndjavera, were charged with theft under false pretences.

The two allegedly sold the same plot to four different people - at N$700 (in two cases), N$750 and N$800.

State prosecutor Roger Sibungo said the two women were granted N$500 bail each and the case was postponed until August 29 for further investigation, and to allow the women to apply for legal aid.

Since the beginning of this week, the City Police have been demolishing shacks illegally built in the Samora Machel constituency.

The demolitions were temporarily stopped yesterday when constituency councillors intervened to discuss the matter with the City Council.

It was during this operation that the City Police found that some people have been selling municipal plots in the informal settlement to unsuspecting buyers at between N$800 and N$1 600.

The fraudsters are exploiting the desperation of poor, rural people migrating to a city without enough serviced plots for them to settle on, leading to a proliferation of informal settlements.

It is estimated that four to five per cent of Namibia's rural population flocks to Windhoek annually. The city's population growth is estimated at 4,44 per cent annually, compared to 2,6 per cent in other towns.

The number of people moving to Windhoek greatly surpasses job creation, and is said to exceed even the capacity of the informal sector to provide them with jobs.

The Windhoek Municipality has in numerous earlier reports indicated that it is struggling to keep up with the provision of land and services, which means that most of the rural migrants are stuck in the ever-growing informal settlements.

In 2001, informal shacks in Windhoek housed more than 13 541 households or 48 183 people.

By 2008, it was estimated that about 100 000 people were living in shantytowns in Windhoek.

The municipality has acknowledged that it is fast running out of land suitable for development, and has made plans only until 2016.

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