12 July 2018

Namibia: Pensioner Commends City for Debt Relief

Windhoek — A Katutura pensioner could not suppress her joy as she expressed gratitude to the City of Windhoek for having scrapped over N$ 60 000 that she owed the municipality for water and electricity.

Philipine Nguvauva, 67, is among pensioners and vulnerable people who owed the City millions of dollars that have been written off in a humanitarian gesture that has been commended. Last week, the City of Windhoek council announced it has written off debts amounting to N$ 191 million belonging to pensioners and vulnerable residents, who were unable to pay the debts.

Nguvauva who only survives on her N$ 1200 pension grant, N$ 500 social grant of two of her five grandchildren and extra income from selling sweets and chips at a nearby school, got up in excitement to dance and thank the Mayor Muesee Kazapua and the council for their deed. Nguvauva lives in Katutura central with five school going grandchildren and pays hostel fees for two. Her own three children are unemployed. To stop the pensioner from getting into more debts, the municipality installed an electricity meter in Nguvauva's home.

"I am very happy my debts are gone," said the pensioner who previously paid N$ 1000 towards the water and electricity per month. After paying that, I am left with almost nothing. That's why I go sell sweets, vetkoek and chips at a nearby school and after that I proceed selling my items at a local supermarket until 20:00 in the evening but then City Police comes and confiscate our items," said Nguvauva.

She said although she made monthly payments to the municipality, her debts kept accumulating.

Another Katutura resident who owed municipality over N$ 20 000 is unemployed Martha Muteyauli, 58, a resident of single quarters. Muteyauli is a widow who has two school going children of her own and taking care of four other people at her home. The pensioner only survives on a mere N$ 500 her children get as social grants from government. She is regarded as vulnerable and will have her debts written off.

Muteyauli told New Era that she had her water disconnected several times and as a result contemplated suicide as her situation became unbearable. But she said an official from the City of Windhoek advised her not to and consider her children that she will leave behind.

"Sometimes we don't have food at home at all, as I pay the whole N$ 500 towards water. On the other hand have school needs to take care of. I should also be thankful we get food parcel from the Food Bank," she remarked while expressing her gratitude that her debt will be scrapped.

Nguvauva and Muteyauli are among 50 pensioners who gather at Uamunovandu Henguvara Zemburuka in Katutura who assists the most vulnerable elderly in the community. Zemburuka's organisation is called 'Elder a Key to Future' and they meet three Tuesdays per month at her home.

"I invite the elderly, give them food and address the abuse from their own children, elderly care for many grandchildren, and I give them activities and we solve their problems. If I cannot, I refer their problems to someone who can," she said.

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