Residents of various compounds in Windhoek’s Wanaheda are adamant they will not move out of the houses with supposed collective ownership status despite having received eviction orders from apparent new owners. The councillor of the Samora Machel constituency, Victor Kalola, has pleaded with government to urgently intervene in an eviction situation affecting more than 300 residents.
The properties were built to accommodate residents of the former compounds in Wanaheda in Katutura.
The councillor said the evictions are being done by those who have secretly transferred the compounds into their names without the knowledge of the other members.
The compounds are supposed to have a collective ownership status.
Kalola told New Era yesterday there are 130 compounds in Wanaheda that were accomodating more than 600 people but close to 200 people have already been evicted, as the compounds have been sold to new owners.
About 65 dwellers received eviction orders, while more than 300 are also facing eviction. The constituency councillor said he is frustrated by the situation of people being served with eviction orders of properties that are not supposed to have individual ownership, saying the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) is responsible for the mess because they transferred public units into individuals’ names.
“Last week, more than 65 people at three compounds were served with eviction orders to go in the street,” Kalola told New Era.
“I have to run around to convince the messenger of the court not to evict people. This is frustrating, and certain officials within the NHE are the ones responsible for this mess. People are too many to be evicted; they have nowhere to go, and it creates a burden for us, as leaders.”
He said the NHE’s former CEO Vinson Hailulu repeatedly gave a moratorium prohibiting any transfer of those properties to private individuals. However, most of the compounds have been successfully transferred secretively.
“Most of the compounds here are transferred already into the names of those who were appointed to be responsible to collect money and pay for the properties and rates and taxes. Now, the family members are the ones causing a commotion by evicting other people who are related to the first occupants that were responsible for collectively paying for the properties,” he fumed.
He said Hailulu gave a moratorium in 2005, repeated it in 2008 and lastly in 2011, saying the occupants at the compounds should not comply with an eviction order presented by anyone, as those compounds do not belong to individuals.
In a letter seen by New Era, dated 8 August 2011, Hailulu enlisted 130 compounds at Wanaheda not to be transferred into people’s names, as they have collective ownership.
“This legal stand of NHE is based on the premise that no single individual should claim ownership of any of these properties, which were built for accommodating residents of former compounds, who, in our considered opinion, should have a collective ownership status,” he stated.
He told the then occupants not to comply with any court order being served to evict them. “You are, therefore, urged to stick to this arrangement until further notice – and that no occupant of all the lodge units listed here should comply with an eviction order presented by anyone. In the event a person is attempting to evict any occupant, such person should be referred to my office (NHE),” said Hailulu.
However, contacted for comment, NHE spokesperson Tuafi Shafombabi said the matter has been brought before the urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni for further consideration; thus, they cannot comment. Uutoni was not reachable for comment yesterday. New Era understands the minister is seized with the matter. Kalola suggested there is a need for the amendments to the law to make provision for the properties that are sold illegally to be repossessed by government to avoid a similar crisis.
“I think amendments to the law are required so that these properties can be saved. The number of people residing here is a lot and needs serious intervention. We are already facing a housing crisis, how are we going to handle this situation if we allow these people to be evicted like this?” he questioned.
One of the occupants, who has been residing there for 20 years after her father passed on, said she has been having sleepless nights since last week when she received the court order.
“Oh again,” Nelago Shitaleni exclaimed before the councillor introduced the New Era team. “Oh, we do not sleep anymore. We are approaching the winter season, and we are being presented with these orders. Our fathers have been paying consistently until the compound is paid up – and now, we are being chased just because of someone who chose to betray our parents? This is not fair.”
Another occupant insists on a refund should the new owners persist with their eviction order.
“If those who claim ownership refund our father’s money, I will go. I cannot insist to stay here. But as long as they do not refund us anything, we will not move,” said Junias Kalola.
Lahja Nehale, a student at Triumphant College, who lives in her father’s unit at a different compound, said those who are evicting them are not fair; hence, she too wants her parents to be refunded if they want them to vacate the property peacefully.
The compound where she lives is sold to a city police officer, who also presented them with a court order.