Namibia: Land Activist Challenges Squatters Law

17 September 2020

Land Activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma has dragged the government and attorney general to court to get the Squatters Proclamation AG, 21 of 1985, repealed. According to the activist, the Act was merely enacted with the sole purpose of denying Namibians access to land and or housing. "The realities of Namibia's land issue, as we speak, can simply not be reconciled with the squatters' proclamation. There is no need for a squatters' proclamation in its current form in our constitutional dispensation," said Nauyoma.

In court papers filed in the High Court on Tuesday, Nauyoma seeks an order declaring the Squatters Proclamation AG, 21 of 1985 as unconstitutional. The particular Act, amongst many things, provides for the removal of persons unlawfully occupying land or buildings, and for the demolition of structures that are unlawfully erected.

Nauyoma argued the Act does not make provisions for circumstances under which unlawful land occupiers obtained the land.

Furthermore, it does not take into account the period of time that person may have occupied the land from which eviction is being sought.

The activist also highlighted the Act does not make provision for special consideration of the rights of the elderly, children, disabled persons and homes that are headed by women - and it further does not give provision for an alternative dispute solution surrounding the unlawful occupation of land.

"If it is accepted that Namibia has a backlog of more than 300 000 housing units, then it should also be accepted that surely persons will find other means to access land by way of erecting structures on vacant land because housing is a basic human need," explained Nauyoma.

It is Nauyoma's position the erection of structures and land occupation for the purpose of housing should not be criminalised, as housing is a basic need and it is against the constitution.

"Better measures should be adopted to accommodate persons who are unemployed and who reside in urban areas, and who do not have access to land," noted Nauyoma.

The land activist is currently awaiting trial for violating the Squatters Proclamation Act last year.

Nauyoma was arrested on 19 January 2019 for allegedly attempting to stop Windhoek City Police officers from demolishing a shack belonging to Okuryangava resident and 33-year-old single mother of two, Wilhemina Shipingana. Thus, he is charged for unlawfully entering the land, without having authority to and without lawful cause. He is further charged for obstructing officers of the law from carrying out their duties.

Police reports at the time stated Nauyoma and other land activists tried to rebuild Shipingana's shack on municipal land. The police further indicated the land belongs to the municipality and it was illegally occupied, and Shipingana knew the shack would be removed.

Nauyoma's trial is scheduled to take place on 26 October in the Katutura Magistrate's Court.

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