Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Kazeongere Tjeundo has raised serious concerns over the plight of residents living at the once prosperous settlement of Kombat.
According to Tjeundo, residents of the once thriving copper mining settlement are subjected to “grave humiliation, degradation and exploitation”.
“What is happening in Kombat is unacceptable. It is exploitation of the highest form, and almost resembles the dark days of apartheid. What is going on in Kombat must not be allowed to take place in our modern-day democratic dispensation,” Tjeundo said while motivating his motion focusing on the plight of the people of Kombat.
He also questioned the controversial ownership of the settlement. To this, Tjeundo challenged the urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni to come out clear and clarify the issue around the ownership of the settlement.
“How did Mr Knowledge Katti acquire ownership of Kombat while Government Gazette number 3679, notice number 119 published on 15 August 2020 declared Kombat a township in terms of section 31 (1) of the Regional Councils Act, 1992?” Kombat is situated 37km east of Otavi in the Otjozondjupa region.
Katti was yesterday unreachable did also not reply to WhatsApp messages sent to him.
In 2015, the settlement was “acquired” by flashy businessman Knowledge Katti through his company Havana Investments for an undisclosed amount. However, Tjeundo in the National Assembly disputed Katti’s ownership, saying the businessman does not even hold the deed of sale, deed of transfer or even a title deed showing that he indeed bought the settlement.
“Mr Katti has also failed to provide proof as to a government property duly proclaimed in 2006 has been alienated to become the property of Grove Mining,” Tjeundo said.
Despite having failed to provide proof of ownership, Tjeundo said Katti remained “the self-proclaimed owner of Kombat” who has since 2015 been collecting rent, electricity and other basic service payments from residents through his properties company.
“The rich and powerful, led by businessman Knowledge Katti and friends from multi-national mining firms are committing great injustices against the people of Kombat,” Tjeundo claimed. “Mr Katti even went on to threaten residents of the town who could not pay rent with eviction in a meeting with the town’s residents in June 2018.
Through his oppressive nature, Katti also evicted dozens of residents from their homes in Kombat to accommodate the Welwitschia University and campus and its students.
Many houses and living rooms were converted into bedrooms in order to accommodate as many students as possible.” Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi also questioned the process that led to Katti claiming ownership of the settlement. According to Swartbooi urgent efforts were needed to deal with the matter appropriately, saying many of those living in Kombat were born there and have no other place to call home.
Up in arms
Meanwhile, residents of Kombat have over the years protested against appalling conditions at the settlement, while they have also bemoaned the high rental costs. At the time residents were unhappy because their monthly rent was increased from N$350 to N$1 250, and some up to N$5 500 for bigger houses, as from November 2018. Equally, residents strongly refused the monthly rental increase. The residents had also decided to stop paying rent after it surfaced that the electricity payments, they had been making to Katti associates were never paid over to NamPower.
The Kombat mine opened in 1962 until operations were interrupted in 2008. Kombat mine still has vital existing infrastructure that includes water, roads and electricity, as well as rail access. Strong underground water streams started to cause havoc over 12 years, causing alarming interference with mining processes, ultimately leading to the closure of operations. Back in the day, unlike with other towns that were under the administration of municipalities under the jurisdiction of government – Kombat was placed under the private administration of the mine owners. Mine owners were solely at the helm of administering and providing basic needs, such as housing, transport, medical services while providing state-of-the-art recreational facilities.