The Namibian (Windhoek)

6 December 2012

Namibia: Otjomuise Land Grab Starts Again

ABOUT 100 people started grabbing land in Otjomuise’s Agste Laan informal settlement this week.

The group started clearing the area opposite the Otjomuise Clinic and demarcating even for themselves illegally.

They claim they are tired of waiting for the City of Windhoek to allocate them land legally. “Why must there be open land and people are suffering?” one wanted to know.

Another said that it was the responsibility of the City of Windhoek to make the erven liveable for them.

They said because what they are doing is illegal, the process is not regulated. “The people are fighting among each other over the illegal erven.”

For example, someone would clear a piece of land, go to work and by the time the person returns to the land, someone else has set up a shack on the premises, one said. “It looks like one needs to strike in order to get something. There are many needy people. Nowadays, it seems you must just do what you want.”

Apart from the City of Windhoek, they also wanted to know what

Khomasdal North regional councillor Margaret Mensah-Williams was doing about their plight.

But Mensah-Williams said yesterday that allocating erven is not her baby. “It’s not me who allocates erven. When I asked about regional and constituency development in Windhoek, I was told the City of Windhoek does it. So let the City of Windhoek talk.”

She urged people to be patient and wait until erven are allocated to them.

According to her, her office has educated the constituency residents about the processes involving land allocation.

“So when the shacks are eventually demolished, then they come running for help. It was explained to them time and again. I don’t think the land grabbers are from my constituency.”

Windhoek lawyer Norman Tjombe yesterday said that more needs to be done to help the poor.

“With inadequate response to the plight of the urban landless poor, we will unfortunately continue to have these sort of matters. I just hope that the City Council will have sobriety in their response to the poor people’s search for some form of basic shelter, and have passion and compassion in resolving the matter,” he said.

The municipality could not provide the exact number of people occupying city land illegal and said they could only provide such figures today.

Scheifert Shigwedha, the spokesperson of the City of Windhoek, yesterday afternoon said: “I’ll give you feedback tomorrow [today], because I have to correspond with colleagues in various departments.”

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