KEETMANSHOOP - Despite their forced removal last week, six squatters have refused to move to the unserviced plots provided by the Keetmanshoop Municipality, and are now sleeping in the open where their illegal shacks used to be. Their properties were moved on August 01 this year to the new plots in the Ileni settlement, but these six unlawful tenants, now led by Simon Isaaks, remain in the area behind Tseiblaagte. They were part of more than 100 squatters who seized municipal plots here at the beginning of the year. The six squatters decided to sleep outside in the cold, demanding that the council gives them a letter outlining how long they can stay on the unserviced plots, and when exactly such plots would be serviced.
“We want them to give us proof that they will service the land and when, so that when they fail to do it in the time they promised, we can go to them and ask why. We feel they just want to dump us there and keep quiet,” said one of the squatters in an interview with Nampa at the site on Wednesday. Another one claimed that his property was impounded by the municipality and he now has nowhere to sleep.
“I sleep under that tree with my brother, because my property and food were taken by the Messenger of the Court, Desmond Andreas, after I said they can take me to a farm in Vaalgras,”he said. The six also accused the police of threatening to beat them up and to arrest them if they did not leave the site. Acting Namibian Police Force (NamPol) Station Commander at Keetmanshoop, Inspector Sikokwani Kennedy Mwala, responded to Nampa on Wednesday, saying the allegations are false, and that the police never threatened to beat or arrest anyone.
“How can we do such a thing when the police were just there to patrol and see if everything is in order? Our duty is to keep peace, not to threaten people,” he explained. Isaaks told Nampa on Wednesday that he hitch-hiked to Windhoek to deliver a letter of concern on the matter to President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Prime Minister Nahas Angula, in which the squatters asked for assistance. “I am doing this because I feel that no one is doing anything for poor people like us. We are being suppressed,” charged Isaaks.
Approached for comment, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Keetmanshoop Town Council, Paul Vleermuis, said the municipality did not promise anything in writing to the squatters.
“The rest of the people who really needed land accepted the plots we gave them. Those six are just instigators, and are not in need of land. In fact, we have already laid a case of trespassing against them,” the CEO stressed. Vleermuis confirmed that the property of one man was taken to a storage facility because the man asked to be taken to a farm, which the municipality cannot do. He also said it is illegal for someone to come from any farm, and just erect a shack on municipal land without authorisation.