OMUTHIYA – About 20 tenants of Endombo compound in Tsumeb were on Tuesday served with eviction notices under heavy police presence for failure to pay rent since 2017. Earlier reports suggested the number to be close to 300, but this figure was denied by the property owner, Christo Groenwald.
The failure to pay rent is apparently a form of protest by tenants bemoaning high rentals and the legitimacy of the property ownership.
The eviction comes weeks after the leader of the opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venani proposed a motion that was adopted in parliament suggesting that Endombo compound be expropriated for fair compensation.
He proposed that the land be expropriated to establish decent housing for the residents.
The notices were served by the messenger of court John Puleston, and tenants were given until the 17th of this month to vacate, failure to do so, trespassing cases would be opened with the police, warned the sheriff.
The sheriff was escorted by members of the police, as the situation is tense after residents allegedly threatened to harm anyone including Groenewald who would stand in their way.
Tenants have revolted against Groenewald who they dispute being the legitimate owner of the property. In addition, they claimed that rental prices are too high, ranging from N$350 to N$2 500, but which is disputed by Groenewald who says rent is fixed at N$560. “We will not move from this place until he proves he is the legitimate owner of this compound. Else we will cause havoc, there will be bloodshed. We will burn this place. Groenewald does not own this place to be taking our hard-earned money,” stressed group spokesperson Johannes Kamati. Groenewald told New Era he was open to a fair discussion which warrants a reasonable compensation, hinting that the government has never approached him for deliberation on the issue.
He in the same vein questioned the government’s interest in the property now.
“I fail to understand why expropriation will be in the public’s interest, unless the government wants to give the property to the residents free of charge. This property was managed in a decent manner since the year 2002 and I have contributed much in terms of providing accommodation to those without housing. It has been managed in the public’s interest while under my ownership,” stated Groenewald. “It is my opinion that it would have been appropriate for government officials to engage with me prior to this motion being tabled to obtain all the relevant facts. Now the opposition has found a vote-scoring opportunity to table the motion and everybody else has fallen for it. It appears to me that politicians have lost their senses to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong,” he stressed in a statement last week.
Groenewald said the word ‘expropriation’ makes every property owner uneasy, thus he urged the government to engage him directly for a win-win solution.
“Unfortunately, up to now, nobody has engaged with me,” he said.
2020-03-04 07:23:07 | 6 months ago