The Okahandja municipality and a home-based caregiver are embroiled in a tug-of-war over the legality and ownership of a property located at the town’s Nau-aib location.
In 2004, the municipality handed over one of its idle buildings to Okahandja Home-based Caregivers to offer community services to vulnerable people in the town.
The building was then registered under the Okahandja Home-based Caregivers. Now the owners are claiming compensation for costs incurred over the years in the upkeep of the building.
In 2018, the municipality started writing eviction letters to the founders of the caregivers to vacate the premises because the council wanted the building back.
The founders of the project, Catherine Uri-Khos, and Magdalena Meyer refused to vacate the premises, demanding compensation first incurred during the upkeep and renovation of the building.
The duo is demanding an amount of N$500 000 in compensation from the municipality, saying failure to do this will see them staying in the building they have been occupying for close to 20 years while running the project.
Uri-Khos said they were given the building by the municipality in 2004. According to her, the agreement between them and the municipality was that after 10 years of operation, the founders can take over the premises, provided they renovate it themselves.
“Ten years lapsed and they still refuse to hand over the building to us. If they say this is their building, then they should compensate us N$500 000 in damages for costs incurred or else they must give us the building as per the agreement taken in 2004. We are not going to vacate until this issue is solved in good faith. They must compensate us before we vacate,” she reacted.
To remain afloat during the harsh economic conditions, the owners of the home-based care decided to rent the place to about seven tenants who pay between N$700 to N$800 per month to sustain the project and allowances for the caregivers.
Okahandja mayor Natasha Brinkman confirmed the eviction notices given to the duo to vacate municipal premises and both have defied the order.
She said the building belongs to the municipality and she doesn’t understand why the founders of the project are fighting for it.
“Why should they use money from tenants for their use under the pretext of home-based care? She even called me threatening me that she will beat me up. We won’t compensate them. They don’t even have proof or any receipt, which shows how much they spent to renovate the building. I have a council resolution that they must hand over the building to the rightful owner. The rightful owner is the municipality,” Brinkman retaliated.
The mayor promised that the duo and the council would have a meeting to discuss and find a solution to this issue soon.
Meanwhile, Meyer said the municipality at the time told them to take the building as it is and their condition was to renovate it themselves. She explained since the building was dilapidated, with the financial assistance from USAID and Namdeb, they got funds and renovated the building.
According to them, they also brought water and electricity to the premises.
Over the years, Okahandja Home-based Caregivers received donations both in cash and in-kind for their soup kitchen, which could feed about 120 people three times a week.
However, during 2017, the founders started to provide food rations which included maize meal, cooking oil, meat and tinned fish to the vulnerable beneficiaries as they could not afford to cook at the soup kitchen anymore.
The project started in 2004 when 26 volunteers received training in home-based care from the ministry of health.
They began with 48 HIV-positive clients.
Apart from the soup kitchen, the project runs an information service where people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS can get information on topics such as anti-retroviral treatment.
With the assistance of donors, the home-based care initiative also had a second-hand shop that sold cheap clothing and a needlework project to generate money for the project.