28 June 2012

Namibia: Kuvukiland People Evicted

Tsumeb — MORE than 70 residents of Kuvukiland informal settlement at Tsumeb were evicted from their plots by the town council on June 21.

They occupied the land illegally, the council said.

The chief executive officer of the Tsumeb town council, Archie Benjamin, wrote letters to the residents on June 20 telling them to vacate the plots the next day because the land they were occupying belongs to Weatherly International.

"Over the past two years the council has been lenient with people who have resettled themselves illegally on private land. Recently the council held discussions with the board of Weatherly International in order to take over that piece of land and this request is still in process," Benjamin said.

"However, people continue to resettle themselves on municipal land ... This is illegal and the council urges you to stop your action as of today by 12h00," Benjamin wrote.

He said those who refused to move off the land left the municipality no option but to call in the Police to remove them.

The people started the Kuvukiland informal settlement in 2009 after they failed to get accommodation elsewhere in Tsumeb.

Members of the Kuvukiland local organising committee, Kongo Nghiyalwa and Pineas Lukas, told The Namibian that they were the ones, together with the town council, who allocated plots to the people to set up houses.

"They cannot say we occupied that land illegally or without their knowledge, because some of us even paid some members of the committee to have plots," said resident Bennet Geiseb.

Sussana Gaoses and her husband Epson Kahozu, Adelta Khainabes and her husband Hansie Katjiuanga, Elfriede Hannes, Robert Gavab, Elias Eiguwab and Johannes Uirab said they feel homeless in their motherland.

"We are very hurt. We are also Namibians, but we do not have a place to stay. We are grown up and cannot stay with our parents forever. We need to have our own houses but our town council is taking the land from us by force," they said.

"Rich people are occupying land in Tsumeb while we poor people do not have any," they said.

The residents claim that even though Kuvukiland is known as an informal settlement for the poor, rich people have plots there and own shebeens.

Geiseb said many people from Kuvukiland live off the town's two dumpsites.

They collect empty tins, scrap metal and other items there which they sell to pay for food and their children's education.

Tsumeb CEO Benjamin told The Namibian that the council initially allowed 350 people to settle at Kuvukiland, but the numbers swelled and some moved onto Weatherly's land.

He said they were still in discussions with the mine to get some land for the people.

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