The City of Windhoek has reached out to the landless committee members in Otjomuise to discuss the content of their petition and the way forward.
Last week, a group of about 300 landless people staged a peaceful demonstration and marched to the City of Windhoek head office to hand over a petition demanding land after their temporary shacks were demolished by the Namibian Police and City Police in the Babylon informal settlement earlier this month.
At Windhoek’s budget presentation, the city’s acting CEO George Muyambelo stated that the city cannot control the influx of about 10 000 people, who move to the city every year for better opportunities.
He said the land issue is sensitive and emotive, but the municipality is working hard to find lasting solutions. “Matters related to land and housing will be discussed in detail at a workshop that will take place at the end of the month. Having regard to the above, I hereby extend an invitation to the landless committee members for a meeting in the coming week to discuss the content of the petition and way forward,” he added. The date and venue will be communicated in due course, but only four committee members will be allowed to the planned meeting due to the increased Covid-19 positive cases.
The group’s spokesperson, Virimuje Kahuure, who read the petition on behalf of the group, earlier called on the city to allocate them land where they can set up their structures. They gave the city two days to go to the scene and see how they are sleeping, warning that they would reassemble if the authorities failed to respond.
He added that the residents are law-abiding, but are just aggrieved by the situation of landlessness, which leads to overcrowded homes. “The situation has likewise led to various evils, including but not limited to gender-based violence, drug and alcohol abuse, rape and school dropouts. Young people testify that they indulge in those activities as a result of seeking a psychological remedy from depression and stress,” he continued.
Kahuure said the situation has worsened the various social problems caused by Covid-19.
“The cost of living has escalated exponentially due to the pandemic, leaving many people at the mercy of Good Samaritans. The Otjomuise area, in particular, is overcrowded with members of the public who cannot afford rental fees any longer due to the pandemic and the skyrocketing cost of living. Members opted to erect structures to accommodate themselves and their children.” He revealed that the security cluster confiscated goods and property to the value of N$65 000 without a court order from the poor people who are already disadvantaged.
The city budgeted N$55 million to go towards informal settlements’ upgrading in their affordable housing pilot project, which includes land servicing.