Namibia: Horse Owners Cross Swords With Municipality Over Stables

26 November 2019

Steven Klukowski

KEETMANSHOOP - Members of the Horse Lovers Organization in Keetmanshoop could face prosecution for illegally keeping their horses at facilities owned by the municipality.

This is according to correspondence between the two parties in possession of New Era. According to community activist Arnold Losper the horses are used for recreational purposes and social functions only and are kept at the horse stables at the Keetmanshoop showgrounds in order to adhere to municipal health regulations on preventing wild animals from roaming around in residential areas.

"By allowing young boys to participate in horse riding activities we are only trying to keep them from the streets and prevent them being exposed to substance abuse and other potential harmful activities," he explained.

Losper said the organisation opted not to pay the required monthly rental fee for keeping the horses at the council-owned stables out of protest at being denied an audience with the municipality's management.

"The disconnection of water at the premises should furthermore be reversed with immediate effect since water is essential to maintain these animals," he said.

The horse owners in their correspondence emphasised that their organisation is willing to keep the stables clean and tidy should the town council provide them with clean sand to cover the manure of the animals and remove it accordingly.

"We will furthermore take full responsibility to keep these stables in a good condition," Losper promised, adding that a meeting between the two parties would be the only platform to find an amicable solution to the situation.

The chief executive officer for Keetmanshoop Municipality, Desmond Basson, said only horse owners with a paid-up account for renting the stables can be welcomed to discuss their problems with the respective officials. His correspondence further indicated that "stables that are not paid for must be vacated with immediate effect".

"The water will remain disconnected because any person who illegally and without payment occupies municipal property is not entitled to municipal services," Basson said in the letter.

He said the municipality reserves the right to seek eviction of the horses kept illegally at its premises and furthermore recover rentals payable and costs related to damage at the facility, plus possible legal costs, from the horse owners.

He said complaints included, amongst others, health risks, stables being used as human toilets, substance abuse at the premises, damage of property and usage of the facility as a spinning pitch for motorbikes.

Upon this reporter following up on the latest developments, Losper said an audience had been granted to them by the municipality but that it did not serve any purpose.

"The chief executive officer opposed discussing the agenda from our communications, and merely repeated the council's decision that we have to pay rent for keeping our horses at the municipality's stables, resulting that the issue is still pending," he said.

Approached for comment, Jegg Christiaan, acting CEO for Keetmanshoop Municipality, was adamant that the council's stand as reflected in their letters to the concerned group remains in force.

"They (horse lovers' organization) are still obliged by law to pay rent for using the stables and the water will remain disconnected until such payments have been done accordingly," he explained.

Christiaan added that the council is still open for further negotiations on the issue as a means to solve it amicably.

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