The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) is suing Urban and Rural Development minister Erastus Uutoni for directing the Ongwediva Town Council to allow a resident to apply for two erven that the church claims belong to it.
The church submits that they are the rightful owners of erven 6231 and 6232 in Ongwediva, extension two. Elcin said it got the plots from the Finnish Mission Society as per an agreement reached on 15 October 1987 in Helsinki, and on 15 November 1987 in Oniipa. The Finnish Mission Society has been in possession of the land since early 1926.
“…Wherein it was agreed that the various portions of land in the Republic of Namibia, allocated to and belonging to the Finnish Mission Society, would be transferred to Elcin,” they state in High Court documents.
The church adds that prior to the agreement and before Ongwediva was proclaimed a town, Elcin was already occupying the said land. The land was then divided into two erven - 6231 and 6232 - after the town’s proclamation.
The church built a children’s daycare centre on the land in 1991, which has since been turned into a guesthouse. Elcin, together with the Finnish Mission, built an Elcin Centre in 1926.
According to the church, the town council and the minister have been aware of their presence and structures built on the land, and they rendered municipal services to it.
Elcin observed that in November 2016 when the town council intended to transfer the land to Elcin, a resident – Raimo Enali Angula - objected to it.
This led to Uutoni directing the town council on 30 September 2022 to afford Angula an opportunity to purchase the plots. The minister further directed that Angula and Elcin should try to reach a consensus on the improvements made to the guesthouse.
However, the church stressed that Uutoni’s directives were unlawful, as he failed to give them an opportunity to state their case before he took the decisions.
Furthermore, the Act does not empower the minister to direct any affected party to apply for land.
Elcin wants the court to set aside Uutoni’s decisions, and send the matter back to him so that the church can present its case.
Pending the outcome of such, the town council is interdicted from transferring the plots to Angula, or any other person.
Angula’s objection letter states that he inherited the land from his late father, Reinhold Nakwanda Kwa Angula.
He said his father, who worked for the Finnish Mission, bought the plots that were adjacent to Elcin’s land.
In 1970, the Roads Authority constructed a road passing through the land, dividing it into two portions. His father then bought an additional piece of land next to the existing one for agricultural use.
“After independence, the new people at the Elcin church created a bed-and-breakfast on my father’s plots,” said Angula.
He added that both plots belong to him by inheritance. He has also been trying to resolve the land matter for nearly 26 years.
The minister, the Ongwediva Town Council and Angula have noted their intention to oppose the application.
Yesterday, Windhoek High Court judge Nate Ndauendapo postponed the matter to 24 January 2024 for mediation.