THE minister of urban and rural development, Erastus Uutoni, has applied to the High Court to evict about 2 000 people who allegedly grabbed unserviced municipal land at Okahandja.
Uutoni and the Municipality of Okahandja are asking the court to authorise the eviction of people who allegedly occupied some parts of the town's unserviced land illegally.
The people who could be facing eviction include residents living in informal structures at locations at Okahandja such as Ekunde, Ekunde Extension 5, Veddersdal Extension 1, 2 and 3 and Five Rand Extension 3 and 4 as well as other municipal land occupied unlawfully.
This could include people who were recently allocated plots by the municipality together with the ministry and Otjozondjupa regional governor James Uerikua.
In an affidavit filed at the court, Uutoni says his and the municipality's urgent application was prompted by massive land grabbing taking place at Okahandja.
“They have occupied it on a massive scale and the occupation is still continuing and we have instituted the urgent application as the situation is becoming untenable,” Uutoni says.
He further says the alleged unlawful occupation of land on a massive scale may exacerbate the spread or transmission of the coronavirus among members of the community.
He therefore wants the court to order the illegal occupants to demolish, remove and dispose of any unlawful structures or goods that may be found on the municipal land within 14 days from the day the eviction order is granted.
In the event that the alleged illegal occupants of the concerned municipal land fail to comply with the court order within 14 days, Uutoni wants the court to authorise the deputy sheriff of the Okahandja district to evict and demolish, remove and dispose of any illegal structures or goods and any other structure that may be found on the concerned municipal land.
In an order granted on Friday, the court directed that residents who want to oppose the application should inform the court of their opposition within three days after the order was circulated or announced through the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.
The urgent application is scheduled to be heard on 7 September.
Gerub |Gaseb, the representative of a community association, Okahandja, Promised Land Association, condemned the attempt by the minister to evict residents.
He said Uutoni's application was “the most draconian action ever to be meted out by a local authority against its residents”.
In a letter yesterday, |Gaseb appealed to the public for financial donations to challenge the minister's application. He claimed about 2 000 people could be affected by the attempted eviction.
Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, |Gaseb slammed the order as childish and as a political move born out of jealousy.
“They have put the lives of about 2 500 people in jeopardy. We will teach them a lesson, we will defend ourself from the corrupt council,” he said.
The ministry's representative at Okahandja, Linus //Garoëb, said that residents who have illegally occupied land should go back to the places they come from.
He claimed some of the people who illegally occupied land in Okahandja came from as far as Dolam in Windhoek.
//Garoëb added that in two weeks' time the town will allocate 307 erven to residents and some of them may be settled there.
“It should not be an inhuman act. We will have a dialogue with them [...] I will not condone a situation in which the residents will be sitting in the streets like in Windhoek. We are trying to avoid a chaotic situation. We want order and discipline. What we are saying is that they should apply to get a piece of land,” he said.
Uerikua yesterday told The Namibian that after the eviction is complied with, the municipality will use a master list to allocate land to residents.
“The whole process is about restoring order and to ensure that the municipal land is not grabbed illegally and any structure that has been erected illegally will have to be removed so that if the person has applied for land and they are on the master list, they can be allocated within the provided structures,” Uerikua said.
Meanwhile, Landless People's Movement leader Ivan Skrywer charged the eviction showed that the Swapo government was not for the poor people.
“They are not serious in solving the housing crisis in Namibia, it will never be them that will solve our housing issue,” he said.
“Recently we saw how they were so quick to sell off our fishing quotas to the foreigners. If only they had the same energy and political will to address the housing and land crisis over the past 30 years then we would've been at a better place now,” he said.