18 May 2018

Namibia: Landless Residents Feel Like Refugees

Swakopmund — About 600 landless residents of Walvis Bay say that they are subjected to living like refugees in the country of their birth as they only have access to a single toilet and one water tap for their basic needs.

These residents are currently living in an open space behind the Tutaleni suburb at the town and say their daily hardships are a drawback to the race-based segregation that existed prior to independence.

The residents, who also endure the icy cold weather of Walvis Bay by sleeping in camping tents, on Wednesday handed a petition to the Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mujavikua, for the attention of the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga.

Residents want Mushelenga to visit the plot where they are living under squalid conditions.

Speaking on behalf of the landless residents, Kassie Shilongo said their plight is very traumatic and that their children's education is affected.

"We want the minister to come and witness how we have been living like refugees. We really feel left out from the Namibian house. This is segregation on another level," he said.

Shilongo said the reason they find themselves in such a predicament is due to exorbitant rental and land prices. He also explained that they were initially promised to be relocated to farm 37.

"Houses are also just given to people with payslips and we don't have that as we do not earn much. Some of us have even been waiting for more than 15 years after we registered ourselves on housing programmes at the town," he said.

Shilongo appealed to the minister to engage with the Walvis Bay Municipality to allow them to continue squatting while they wait for the formalisation of their promised relocation to farm 37. They also want at least five more toilets and more water taps to be installed at the squatter camp.

"We queue up for one toilet and a single water tap. We feel like refugees in our own country," he said.

Upon receiving the petition, Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, applauded the group for airing their plight in a civilised and orderly manner. He also told them that they were aware of their plight and that he was working towards fulfilling their relocation to farm 37.

"I will forward the petition to the minister for further attention," he promised them.

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