2 August 2012

Namibia: Keetmans Demolishes Squatter Shacks

SECURITY guards hired by the Keetmanshoop Town Council, under police supervision, yesterday dismantled illegally built shacks in the Tseiblaagte residential area.

Claiming that they were waiting too long to be allocated plots by the council, people grabbed council-owned land in February.

Those whose illegal structures were dismantled described the move as "inhumane and barbaric," saying its reminds them of the apartheid regime.

About 40 shacks were dismantled. Municipal trucks transported the dismantled structures and the squatters' personal belongings to locations of their choice.

The squatters were given an ultimatum on Monday to move voluntarily or be forcibly evicted.

Although the squatters opposed the dismantling of their shacks in a petition handed over to the police, there was no resistance on their part once the demolitions started.

In the petition, the squatters vowed to challenge the eviction in court.

The squatters claimed they were not reluctant to move to the Ileni informal settlement, but they demanded a written undertaking from the municipality that the new land was allocated to them.

"In absence of such an agreement, the uncertainty remains of great concern. We have already on numerous occasions seen discrepancies, dishonesty and disrespect. Hence the [demand for] a written agreement," the petition stated.

They called on Local Government Minister Jerry Ekandjo to intervene.

About 50 squatter households recently moved to the Ileni settlement where they will wait for their housing needs to be addressed.

The remaining squatters charged that community activist Ernst Jash had sold them out by agreeing to the relocation without consulting them - a claim Jash has denied.

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