TSUMEB - Endombo residents have turned their cries to the government and the Tsumeb municipality, with the hope of staving off an eviction order, due next week Monday, following a back-and-forth process stemming from 2017.
About 20 households who questioned and challenged the legitimacy of the property owner Christo Groenewald in the High Court are facing the boot after being served with eviction notices on Monday this week.
They have until 17 May to vacate or forcefully be removed by the messenger of court John Pulleston, while further removals will be executed afterwards for all those with outstanding rental fees.
The compound is home to about 3 000 residents with families mostly occupying the 265 units. The precolonial compound was previously owned by the Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL).
Tenants have for years questioned the ownership of the property.
This came after Groenewald wanted to increase rental fees to which the residents objected, saying it could not match the value of the property, which they argued is dilapidated. “I have lived in this compound for 17 years.
This is the only place I thought I should call home. I am now unemployed, where will I go and rent again?” questioned Lucia Kubes, who lives at the compound with ten other family members.
“At least this was a bit affordable for me. It pains me a lot to hear that we will be thrown in the cold at the sports field where we will be squatting in tents.” Kubes lost her job as a domestic worker last year following the Covid-19 outbreak.
She has been paying N$560 as a rental fee in the small room she shares with her family. “I pleaded with Groenewald to have mercy and reduce the rent considering that I am now unemployed, but he refused. From there I stopped paying rent,” she claimed. Another resident - Packy Tjamburo - pleaded with the authorities to at least make land available where they can set up their structures or build permanent houses, instead of being “thrown in the wind”.
“I have kids, how will we survive in the middle of nowhere? Many of us struggle with odd jobs and unemployed, something must be done. When we are voting for our leaders the process is smooth and fast, why can’t they attend to our problems with the same energy?” questioned Tjamburo. Tjamburo’s neighbour Clementine Oreses shouted, “They are just coming to break our properties as they did in 2017, and to date, they never compensated us for the losses. Government must come to our aid soon.”
Meanwhile, some residents are adamant that they will not move unless they are given plots. “How will my goods fit in the tent, including my family’s? This is the most heartbreaking news ever received, my blood pressure is ever high and seeking medical attention because of the inhumane treatment. However, as residents, we have decided to remain here irrespective until we are given serviced land,” said Martin Marthinus. “We shall never tolerate tents at all, when there is land, they should come back to us, that is when we can move.”
Tsumeb mayor Mathew Hangula in a telephonic interview on Wednesday told New Era the council stands by its promise of accommodating the evictees at Oscar Norich Stadium while they finalise the servicing of plots. “With us that remains the procedure, right now people are set to start servicing the area by installing water reticulation, roads and sewerage. This process is likely going to take more than a month or so,” said Hangula who also appealed for calm amongst residents. “It is only after that we will start allocating plots. However, these plots will not be free rather the land is going to be subsidised.” He said there are about 43 plots to be serviced, in addition to hundreds that are already complete.
The High Court last September ruled in favour of Groenewald, after the group appealed the Tsumeb Magistrate’s Court order to allow him to evict the tenants. The group attempted to appeal the matter in the Supreme Court, but their luck fell short for failing to meet the 10-day deadline to launch their appeal, hence the matter was struck off the roll and closed. In March this year, the group’s lawyer Hezekiah Awaseb of Awaseb Law Chamber wrote to the Supreme Court asking the court to condone the matter, so that it can be heard again. The reasons given for failing to honour the Supreme Court’s rules of appeal was that the lawyer had withdrawn from the matter after the client (Endombo group) failed to secure sufficient funds on time.
Up in arms… The Endombo compound where tenants are set to be evicted.
Photo: Obrein Simasiku