OMUTHIYA – Homeless residents of Tsumeb have resorted to occupying land illegally, claiming they have been homeless for far too long without any solution.
The residents started with protests on Saturday and then proceeded to occupy land belonging to Weatherly Mining near Sommerstan location.
Hundreds of residents are participating in the land grabbing, which is led by the Kaap en Bou that advocates for the provision of plots to the poor.
The Affirmative Repositioning movement activists, who have now requested for an audience with Weatherly Mining, also joined the protests at the weekend.
Tsumeb is landlocked with no means of expansion as it is surrounded by farms and land belonging to local mines.
“We saw it fit to join the homeless masses who seek to restore their dignity by securing a piece of land to call home.
This is after the municipality failed to address and provide land as agreed in 2014 when 14 000 applications were submitted.
To date, nothing has happened to that effect and the crisis is escalating,” stressed AR activist John Johannes.
He said the group has been busy occupying the land, while they have organised an urgent meeting with Weatherly representatives, Kaap en Bou as well as the municipality.
“The municipality has been negotiating for years but to no avail.
This has been moving at a slow pace while masses are suffering.
This just shows there is a lack of decisiveness among the local authority councillors.
Therefore, we have taken it upon ourselves as affected individuals to address the matter with the owners of the land.”
Tsumeb mayor Mathews Hangula also confirmed late afternoon that mass land occupation was still ongoing although the authorities were notified to maintain law and order.
“We are looking forward to Wednesday’s (tomorrow) meeting where this issue will be discussed, although as a municipality we had reached an agreement with Weatherly before to have a portion of land transferred to council.
This, however, has not taken place, as we are still waiting for a deed of transfer,” he said.
As it stands, Hangula said, the municipality cannot provide land to people which does not belong to it, until such a time it receives documents reflecting the transfer of ownership.
“I would also like to dispel the notion that council was given land by Weatherly and refused it.
That cannot be true and devoid of any truth.
We are still waiting for the transfer to be effected,” Hangula added.
He further said available land is unserviced hence, the council cannot allocate it as it might jeopardise the planning and statutory procedures.
In 2016, Weatherly transferred a piece of land to the Tsumeb municipality where Kuvukiland informal settlement is after the masses forcefully encroached on the mining area.