About 300 landless residents marched from Otjomuise to the City of Windhoek headquarters yesterday, and gave the municipality two days to familiarise themselves with their situation and five days to find a solution to their problem.
If the municipal officials fail to assess their situation, the group threatened to set up camp again at the city’s head office. Group leader Virimuje Kahuure told the city’s strategic executive for housing, property management and human settlement Faniel Maanda, who received the petition, that people are suffering, and city officials need to go there physically to assess the situation. “We demand a prompt response from the authority within five working days. In the meantime, dejected members of the community are camping in corridors of Otjomuise’s Agste Laan, and we demand to be given the area in question for our temporary shelter as we are currently exposed to cold,” he stressed.
“The situation has become worse after the demolition of our shacks. People are now camping there, and some are struggling to put up other structures to accommodate them. As a result, they are sleeping in the open. Go there and come up with a solution of a temporary structure to accommodate the people.”
Maanda said the city will study the petition, and get back to the group. Kahuure said the situation has worsened the various social problems caused by Covid-19.
“Most of those people lost their breadwinners due to Covid-19. As a result, they are forced to come and look for accommodation at no cost while continuing to hunt for jobs. Some of them are traumatised because during the pandemic, they have seen their family members suffer from the virus, and there was not enough space to isolate. All these problems are overlooked,” he stated.
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 indicated that the appeal is based on the numerous pleas and petitions they submitted, although promises from the city council had not been attended to for years.
“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 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 demonstrators urged mayor Job Amupanda to honour the promises he made during the previous election campaign of delivering land to the masses.