25 January 2013

Namibia: Housing Scheme 'Abandons' Single Mother

THE Cheetah Capital Community Resettlement (CCCR) Project, dubbing itself a welfare organisation building low-cost housing for disadvantaged groups, has for the past three years come under scrutiny for all the wrong reasons.

The company has been described as a sham by house buyers in various towns across Namibia, who said it did not deliver on its promise to build them houses.

In 2011 CCCR had to refund N$120 000 to its clients because it failed to deliver houses in terms of contracts with buyers.

Last year, another newspaper reported that CCCR had to refund N$200 000 to disappointed clients, many of whom domestic workers and labourers.

Hakahana resident Anna Ui-Nuses, then a member of a shack dwellers group called Habitat 2, said she had been conned by the company's chairperson, Sylvester Shipanga, who left her future home unfinished for more than a year after his workers were stopped in their tracks by the Windhoek municipality because the building plan had not been approved.

"We were a group of ten whose houses were supposed to be built. I think a few had their houses completed," she said.

Ui-Nuses demanded a refund of her N$1 000 deposit, but she said Shipanga refused to give it to her. "He told me he used the money to buy a new machine for the business," said Ui-Nuses.

She said on the day that Shipanga's men were stopped by the municipality, they were digging the ditches for the foundation of the house. "Why would you start digging if the plan was not approved?" she wanted to know.

"He [Shipanga] started digging the foundation when he was stopped by people from the municipality. After that, I called him several times asking about the status of my building plan and he told me the plan had not been approved. He never returned to fill in the ditches, even after I asked him to do so. I have children living with me and it is dangerous for them," said Ui-Nuses.

When she could not get anything out of Shipanga, Ui-Nuses decided to approach the municipality.

According to her, she spoke to Oela Loots, a senior building inspector at the City of Windhoek. She said Loots told her that her plan had in fact been approved, but did not give her proof of that when she requested it.

Ui-Nuses said she approached CCCR Welfare Project's Sylvester Shipanga after she saw an advertisement in a local daily in 2010. The company had built several hundred houses in Otjiwarongo at the time. When she read that she had the option of paying a minimum amount of N$150 per month for 15 years to pay for the N$120 000 house, she grabbed the opportunity.

The Namibian spoke to Shipanga earlier this month. "She's been threatening me with the papers; she can go to the newspaper. I have already told her what I needed to tell her, she must just face reality," said Shipanga.

Shipanga said they took the plan to the municipailty, which did not want to approve it. "We paid the guy who drew up the plan. The loophole was that it was not her property," he said.

He said Ui-Nuses had two plans: the first one was to build a one-bedroom house, which was approved by Habitat 2; and the second was for a two-bedroom house which was not approved.

"I can build her house on the first plan, not the second plan. Tell her to come and see me so we can discuss that," he said.

Ui-Nuses said Shipanga had both plans in his possession.

Loots could not be reached, as he was said to be out of the office until Monday.

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