Keetmanshoop — It is now possible for individuals to own property in the town of Oranjemund, where property ownership was vested in the Namdeb Diamond Corporation, which owned the town and all assets in the town. The Oranjemund Town Council and Namdeb on Monday signed the long awaited agreement for the transfer of all municipal services, infrastructure, and assets to the town council. Oranjemund was declared a public town council last year, with residents having to, for the first time, pay for municipal services. From October last year, the public was for the first time, allowed to visit the town without a permit. Before the proclamation, Oranjemund was a restricted diamond mining area requiring a special permit for public to enter.
Oranjemund - meaning "Mouth of the Oranje" in German for its close proximity to the mouth of the Orange River - was established in 1936 by the then Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM). It has been a closed privately owned town, and existed purely for the purpose of mining operations and the mine provided all services.
Yet even though there has been a sizeable population in the town, residents who were mainly mineworkers and their families, could not own properties until now.
The town's mayor Henry Coetzee described the agreement as a huge achievement for the town and its people.
"What it means is that people can now own property at the town, which has not been the case for 81 years, this is a very huge achievement, it took us about three years to finalise the negotiations," he said.
Oranjemund Constituency Councillor Lazarus Nangolo also expressed his joy that residents of the town will finally have a chance to buy and own property.
He however, appealed to Namdeb to consider reducing the price of houses, saying residents are already complaining that the prices are too expensive.
"This chapter is now closed, and I am quite happy and optimistic going forward and I hope Namdeb can consider looking at the prices of houses and possibly reduce it for our community to be able to afford," said Nangolo.
He further said that he expects investors to flock to the town, now that everything is in place to do business, saying that it is important to diversify the town's economy, to reduce dependency on diamond mining.