TSUMEB - In an eleventh-hour intervention, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has instructed the urban and rural development ministry as well as that of works to swiftly engage the owner of
the Endombo compound in Tsumeb, who was set to evict about 20 households yesterday. The instruction, which was passed down yesterday through Tsumeb constituency councillor Gottlieb Ndjendjela, saw the eviction process being averted
after property owner Christo Groenewald agreed to what he termed a last negotiation, following countless deliberations which
had failed to deliver a solution.
Among the options on the table, the government seems to have reconsidered acquiring the property through expropriation, New Era is informed.
Previously, this option was shelved due to financial constraints.
The eviction could have seen more than 100 people being thrown out in the cold, while over 3 000 who live in the same compound could face a similar fate at a later stage.
Last year, Groenewald told New Era that he was open to negotiations. He then indicated that the property was valued at over N$17 million, excluding outstanding rental fees by defaulting tenants since 2017.
The outstanding rental fees for nearly four years are now estimated to have accumulated into millions of dollars.
“I have given government a week, and if nothing fruitful is reached this week, I will proceed with the eviction next Monday, 24 May. For now, I will not divulge much as the rest will be brought to government’s attention once we meet,” said Groenewald as he confirmed the proposed deal.
Contacted for comment, Ndjendjela said the issue has become high on government’s agenda, which seeks to resolve the matter. He stated that one of the possibilities is to discuss the likelihood of buying the property. He, however, rubbished the notion of government settling outstanding rental
fees for defaulting tenants.
“Paying the tenants’ outstanding fees will not be practical as it will mean government should do it for everyone. So, we look forward to the deliberations, and will see what other offers will be on the table,” he added. Ndjendjela’s views were backed by Oshikoto governor Penda Ya Ndakolo, who said the government is looking into the matter by weighing up the options that could be beneficial to all parties.
Groenewald was the property manager for mining company Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL) before Weatherly Mining took over. He obtained the property in 2002. It was a squatter camp for mining employees.
‘We want land’
Meanwhile, hordes of tenants who locked the gate and gathered outside the Endombo compound as from 06h00 yesterday while waiting for the authorities, are now urging the government to rather focus on the servicing of land where they can build their own structures.
“If government can now manage and afford to purchase this overpriced property, why can’t they just use the same funds to service land so that we construct our own houses? Even if we are dead, such property will still remain with our family and children, as compared to now. We do not have any entitlement on the squatters’ rooms,” said the Endombo committee’s vice chairperson, Immanuel Shilonda.
In addition, sooner or later Endombo would still turn into a circus as many people will congest the place and fight for space. Hence, the hope is to get plots, he said.
Shilonda added that “we are refusing to leave because we have nowhere else to go, unless we are provided with alternative land. On the part of the payments, we refused because we can’t be paying for a place that is substandard and in a deplorable condition. In 2017, we asked Groenewald to improve the place if he wanted to increase the rental price as well as the double deposit. That is why we revolted when he refused.”
Meanwhile, the Tsumeb municipality offered to accommodate those to be
evicted at the sports field while they are finalising the servicing of land at Omotuli, where about 43 plots are being serviced.
In March last year, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani tabled a motion in parliament for the Endombo compound to be expropriated at fair compensation. He proposed that the land be expropriated to establish decent housing for the residents. Phone calls and text messages to urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni were not answered by the time of going to print.