Namibia: Katima Mulilo Residents Refuse Relocation

THE residents of Lwanyanda informal settlement at Katima Mulilo have refused to move from the plots on a 2 000 hectare piece of land situated 5km outside the town they claim they paid the Liselo sub-khuta for.

The residents held a peaceful demonstration last Thursday against the Katima Mulilo Town Council (KMTC)'s decision to have them relocated and they accused the Mafwe Traditional Authority of defrauding them.

In a petition read by Bendict Chilinda, the group stated that about 3 000 households paid N$3 500,25 each to the Mafwe Traditional Authority (MTA), which adds to N$10 500 750 for the plots they are living on.

"This is fraud. Why did the MTA force us to pay them for the plots knowing very well that the land does, not belong to them.

We are now in the hands of the KMTC, who [are] forcing us to move, as they would provide plots for us," the petition reads.

The group claims that the proposed site of relocation is unsafe and far from major amenities.

"It [the site] is 15 kilometres from [the] town, next to the cemetery, and since it was an army base previously, we are at risk of undetonated explosives," the petition read.

The group further called for the removal of Katima Mulilo Town Council chief executive officer Raphael Liswaniso and compensation for their houses which were demolished in 2017.

In 2017, the Katima Mulilo Town Council demolished houses of people, claiming that they were illegally settled on town land.

Hundreds of people living at Lwanyanda, Cowboy and Dairy compounds were left homeless following the demolitions by council without a court order.

The Liselo sub-khuta under the Mafwe Traditional Authority had claimed at the time that the town council did not have any right since the land belonged to the traditional authority. However, after two years, the same traditional authority which had claimed that the land is theirs, signed an agreement with the Katima Mulilo Town Council that the disputed land, indeed belonged to the town council.

Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu, in a joint press release with the officials from the town council and the traditional authority last week revealed that the two parties had signed an agreement to honour the existing boundaries declared between 1987 and 1991.

"The office of the governor confirms that there had been meetings between the Katima Mulilo Town Council and Mafwe Traditional Authority to discuss the dispute of the boundaries of the town (Katima Mulilo) since 2018.

This has resulted in a consultative meeting between the KMTC and MTA attended by the line minister, Peya Mushelenga, and attorney general Albert Kawana among others," he said.

Sampofu further noted that a consultant, Boniface Mutumba, was appointed by the MTA to investigate the authenticity of a diagram and beacons of the Katima Mulilo boundaries released by the surveyor general in 1991. The Katima Mulilo Town Council, Mafwe Traditional Authority, office of the governor and the Namibian Police identified all the beacons which were certified.

"On 19 September 2019, the consultant gave the findings to all the relevant offices.

"In pursuance with all the discussions on the findings, the KMTC and the MTA accepted and recognised the authenticity of Katima Mulilo boundaries which form the basis on which the town was declared in 1992," Sampofu said.

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