Namibia: Windhoek Gymnasium Land Application Rejected

AN application by the Windhoek Gymnasium Private School to buy a N$3,2 million plot in the city to construct a junior primary school has been rejected by the Windhoek municipality.

According to council documents made public during the monthly council meeting last week, the application was made by South African company Curros Holdings, which owns Windhoek Gymnasium Private School, situated at Kleine Kuppe in the capital.

The council recommended that the land (Erf 853 in Kleine Kuppe) must be rezoned to business, and be sold through tender. Three other companies had also applied to buy the plot.

Curros Holdings wants to construct a N$200 million junior primary school, but it has been struggling to get municipal land since 2017. Council documents show that the school's managing director, Colette Rieckert, applied on 1 June 2018 to purchase erf 853, which measures 3 455 square metres, and is situated on the corner of Mowe and Sossusvlei Streets in Kleine Kuppe. Before their interest in that erf, the company had first applied to buy Erf 350 in Kleine Kuppe to build the proposed primary school. However, they could not get this plot because the municipality had reserved this land for the ministry of education from 2006. The ministry has not developed the land since then.

Rieckert wrote to City of Windhoek chief executive officer Robert Kahimise on 1 June 2018 that the municipality should make a final decision on whether the company could buy Erf 350.

"The matter of extending our school's facilities to provide for the huge need for placement at our school, and also the need for placement in all schools in Windhoek and Namibia, is still a high priority with us," she said.

The managing director further noted that if erf 350 is not an option, they would follow up on the possibility of acquiring other pieces of land in Kleine Kuppe or in Rocky Crest. The school also applied for Erf R497 and Erf 350 in Olympia.

The city responded to Rieckert on 25 July 2018, stating that erf 350 is reserved for the ministry, while the property in Olympia was a landfill where no buildings could be constructed.

Other applicants interested in Erf 853 are Dr Martin Blair from the American University of Medicine, who applied in 2011 to buy the property to construct buildings to house and accommodate medical students, lecturers and faculty members for the university.

Ya Negumo Properties CC applied in 2014 to purchase the erf to develop townhouses, while Tuli Pamwe Consortium wanted the land for consolidation with erf 854.

Council recommended that all the applicants be informed that Erf 853 will be sold through public tender, where everyone will be allowed to compete.

Council also recommended that the city seeks approval from the urban and rural development ministry to draft the sales agreement, and resale conditions be registered against the title deed in favour of council.

Gymnasium, which currently offers both primary and secondary education, wants to build a N$200 million primary school and sports facilities to accommodate about 1 000 pupils.

It is not clear whether the education ministry is still reluctant to give this land to Windhoek Gymnasium.

The Namibian reported last year that former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa was against exchanging the land with the private school.

The school claimed it was being supported by State House in their land application.

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