Namibia: Keetmans Land Sale Controversy Continues

THE Keetmanshoop municipality has once again revoked the sale of residential erf 2421 located at the town's Tseiblaagte and measuring 5 052 square metres.

Documents show council had resolved in September 2016 to sell the plot at a rate of N$30 per square metre amounting to N$151 500 to local chief magistrate Philanda Christiaan, wife of the council's local economic development manager Barthlomeus Jegg Christiaan.

But less than two months afterwards, council passed a motion tabled by councillor Ernst Jahs revoking the deal after it surfaced that the price tag on the plot was determined on alleged misleading information by officials that the land was undetermined, meaning not serviced. The motion was supported by mayor Gaudentia Krohne, councillor Hilia Titus and former councillor Justine Louw.

The controversy flared up anew in January when potential buyer Nicolene Christiaan objected to the land sale in a letter she wrote to urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga.

This followed after it transpired that council had again offered to sell the said plot for N$277 750 to the local chief magistrate after she wrote an appeal letter dated 29 June 2017.

Documents show the urban and rural ministry had approved in November 2017 to sell the erf to the chief local magistrate as requested by council.

In her letter of objection on the controversial land deal, Nicolene Christiaan said she had hand-delivered an objection letter to the council within the set seven days, after she learnt in a newspaper notice that the land was allocated to Philanda Christiaan.

But, according to her, she had not received an acknowledgement of receipt to her objection letter, nor any response on her objection.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said some councillors felt the price tag on the land does not reflect the fair market-related price for it.

A valuation report seen by The Namibian and issued by a private valuator stated that the land is worth N$732 255, and that it is fully serviced.

The council's chief executive officer, Desmond Basson, last week refuted allegations that council intended to sell the land in question far below the market-related price, saying some councillors use the land sale issue as a "political ball".

"We have used a benchmark of an adjacent erf to determine the value of the said land," he said, adding that residential plots adjacent to erf 2421 had been sold at the rate of N$45 per square metre. Basson also disagreed that the plot in question is serviced, saying the bulk services are only in close proximity of the erf, and not inside the erf.

He also rebuffed Nicolene Christiaan's claims of having applied for the said erf before Philanda Christiaan.

The CEO insisted Philanda Christiaan had already applied for the said erf in 2016.

"For now, we have temporarily halted the land sale of the said erf until the [line] minister guides us on the way forward regarding the sale of the erf," he stated.

He hinted that the controversy swirling around the sale of the erf would be best resolved by selling it on auction. Nicolene Christiaan yesterday said it would be premature to comment since she has not yet received any response to her objection.

Philanda Christiaan, on her part, said she has not to date received any communication from the council regarding the status of her application.

"The only thing I am aware of is that there was a notice in the newspaper inviting an objection regarding the sale of the erf to me," she added.

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