Namibia: Pressure Mounts On Amupanda Over Land

News - National | 2021-07-22

SHELLEYGAN PETERSEN and TIA-ZIA //GAROëS

"JOB [Amupanda] was here campaigning for the elections. He knows. We have no other plans now that our shacks are demolished," were the words of residents of the Babylon informal settlement whose shacks were demolished yesterday.

Shacks belonging to more than 20 residents on a plot in Omuvapu Street at the Babylon informal settlement were demolished by contractors hired by the City of Windhoek.

During the demolition, The Namibian saw helpless mothers with children and young men who had been left in the cold watching as their shacks were destroyed by police officers who wanted them to vacate the plot as they are contravening the Covid-19 regulations regarding public gatherings.

Police officers were heard shouting: "Last month we told you to move but now when we remove you, you want to cry."

City of Windhoek spokesperson Harold Akwenya told The Namibian that the plot was divided into three portions and two were sold.

He said one portion of the plot belongs to a lawyer who wants to bring services closer to the people in the informal settlements, while another portion belongs to the Namibian Police and the third to the municipality.

"How can we relocate them if they grabbed land? They are going to be removed because we do not tolerate land grabbing,"Akwenya said, adding that all the residents of the place grabbed the land.

An angry Petrus Musa who has written numerous letters to political leaders including Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda and president Hage Geingob, said since last year they have been trying to get assistance, but none came.

Musa singled out Amupanda, saying he and members of his Affirmative Repositioning movement had come to Babylon informal settlement to campaign during the regional and local authority elections but it seems he has forgotten about them.

"If we go to Job's office now, do you know what he will say? Make an appointment, wait, it is Covid-19. At least if they tell us, 'let us demolish here and move you somewhere else temporarily' we would accept that, but they are offering nothing. We must just move," he said as his corrugated zinc shack was being pulled down.

"We tried our best to at least ask for land on a temporary basis. We even wrote to Job's office, but got no response. We even slept at the councillor's office for two days in May when they told us to wait. We are still waiting in July now," said the 25-year-old.

Musa said he has been trying to create employment for himself by applying for a vendor's licence to operate at the open markets but was rejected several times.

Efforts to get comment from Amupanda were unsuccessful as calls and messages to him went unanswered. However, he tweeted yesterday evening: "I have taken note of the events in Tobias Hainyeko. I have asked the acting chief executive officer, George Mayumbelo, and the head of the City Police, chief Abraham Kanime, to brief me and councillors as to what has transpired."

Amupanda did not comment on land grabbing by residents earlier this year.

A young mother of one said officers had misled them, saying they will hold a meeting regarding the plot and the way forward.

"They [City Police] came here at 08h00 and started dismantling our shacks without talking to anyone. They just started evicting people," she said.

Paulina Nendonga who has been living at the plot since March said having no permanent home was frustrating.

"I am angry. I have a child, and this is a problem. These officers have their own houses where they live. I don't know what I am going to do. It is not right," she said.

A shack of a family of three adults and children was pulled down and only their beds, blankets and suitcases were left.

"We will sleep outside tonight. We moved here three days ago after seeing other people grabbing land. It's not right, but it is okay," the breastfeeding mother of a newborn told The Namibian.

Jeremia Kaputa said he had moved to the area more than three weeks ago because he has been retrenched and had no home.

"I was working at a company where I was an assistant driver but I was retrenched in 2019," Kaputa said.

"Now this again, I have nowhere to go," said Kaputa with his head down.

A woman, who chose anonymity, said her shack had given her a sense of independence.

"I was renting before I came here and we were fine. At least we had our own piece of the land. But again it is a big story. We do not know what is next," said the woman who lives with her sister and two children.

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