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Landless residents removed from NHE land

2023-12-12  Eveline de Klerk

Landless residents removed from NHE land

WALVIS BAY - A group of 170 Walvis Bay residents found themselves sleeping out in the open after being told to vacate open plots belonging to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) in the area.

The scarcity of land and increasing rent for informal structures have pushed some residents to abandon their rental dwellings out of sheer desperation and hopelessness.

Last week, the group had to dismantle their shacks, witnessing their makeshift homes loaded onto municipal trucks and transported to the dumping site.  Some members voluntarily removed their structures after a meeting with the municipal officials and councillors, while others did so under the watchful eye of armed law-enforcement agencies to prevent any disturbances.

Yolokeni Hangula, a pregnant mother who has lived in Walvis Bay for 14 years, said she occupied the land because she could not afford rent, especially with four children and another on the way. As municipal trucks loaded their belongings, she expressed her financial struggles and inability to afford both rent and necessities for her family. “Renting is costly, especially with a small salary or after losing a job, like I did during the pandemic. Now, all I wish for is to have a piece of land so that I do not have to move again,” Hangula said.

Another resident, identified only as Memory, returned to Walvis Bay earlier this year, facing housing challenges after her father lost his job and moved to the north. “I had no option but to stay with my uncle. But the house was too full, as we were living eight in a two-bedroom house. That is how I found myself here,” she stated. Memory expressed sadness over being told to move, without an immediate solution for their situation. 

“At least they could have used the petrol they are using here to take us to Farm 37. We are ready, as we don’t have anywhere to move to,” she added.

Jafet Nujoma, who initially lived in town, lost his job during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. 

“I don’t have a job, can’t pay rent, and came to stay here with others since September. All my things are here. I don’t have a job, so I stand with other men at the stop signs to do odd jobs. You are lucky when you get picked for a job. The government told us that there is no job, but where is my motherland, my father’s land? Where is it said that we must struggle like this, just for a decent place to stay?” he asked.

Nujoma expressed frustration that some people set up shacks while taking advantage of their misery. According to him, not everyone was sleeping at this space, as some only wanted to capitalise on their struggle. The Walvis Bay municipality responded to the burning questions, stating that they engaged with residents who had unlawfully erected structures at Extension eight and nine in Kuisebmond before removal.  “The purpose of this open and peaceful dialogue was to inform the residents why they cannot claim land illegally, or settle illegally on land that rightfully belongs to a third party,” the municipality stated.

They confirmed that most erected structures were unoccupied after investigation, and some residents had been allocated land at Farm 37. 

The municipality encouraged residents to join or form organised groups, and follow appropriate channels to apply for land. The council emphasised successful collaborations with groups like The Backyard Tenants, the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia, and The Seafarers in the past, committing to delivering land through an organised approach.

Meanwhile, senior communications officer Tuafi Shafombabi from the NHE confirmed plans to construct over 151 housing units on the disputed land in the foreseeable future. They have appointed consulting engineers for municipal service installation, with the contractor expected on site early next year (2024). 

“We urge residents to desist from occupying the land illegally, as development will start soon. The NHE remains committed to ensuring that we deliver on our important mandate of providing and financing housing for the Namibian nation,” Shafombabi said.


2023-12-12  Eveline de Klerk

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