WINDHOEK - A group calling itself the Gobabis Concerned Group has forwarded a petition to the Gobabis Municipality in which they flatly state their intention not to be moved from one informal settlement to another.
They also demand that municipal bills accumulated by pensioners be written off, because the municipality has apparently been mismanaging funds at the town. Ben Motlatla, secretary of the concerned group, told New Era that they have given the municipality 14 days in which it must respond to their demands or else, the group intends to take further action.
He said that municipality wants them to relocate from Freedom Square (former Damara Block) to Kanaan, which is another squatter camp with no proper toilets and in an area that is crime-infested. Motlatla said he is also affected since he has already built a brick house at Freedom Square and has been living there for the past five years. He added that at Kanaan, the municipality was expecting them to use a ‘dry toilet’ system or basket system like in the colonial times. The secretary of the concerned group said there is no sewerage system except for those that can afford to pay for it. “This system is very filthy because once the basket is removed, the residue is thrown in the bush,” said Motlatla.
He revealed that last Thursday they marched to the municipality to voice their grievances and also to handover a petition to the municipality’s CEO, Efraim Dawids.
“We want a financial report from the town council on money that was donated by Holland to build an amphi-theatre near Wennie du Plessis High School,” he said, adding that the project should have been completed two years ago, but until now there has been no progress.
Matlatla said Epako’s Sunrise Location (former Tswana Block) was also supposed to benefit from the Holland donation with the erection of toilets, but nothing came of that either. He added that the municipality wants them to buy the erven at Freedom Square for N$17 000 each, but they want to negotiate because not everyone can afford to pay that amount.
When approached for comment, the town council’s CEO, Efraim Dawids, said demand for land in the small town is so huge that they are running in circles trying to satisfy everyone. He said that the group that is refusing to be resettled at Kanaan, settled themselves on serviced land in Freedom Square.
“We told them you are squatting on serviced land,” said the CEO, adding that there were people who obtained loans from the municipality and elsewhere and were on the waiting list to be given erven at Freedom Square. Dawids said they have given those that are squatting on the land first option to buy or approach the municipality to make arrangements on how they would pay for the erven. Alternatively, the municipality was ready to relocate only those that do not have money to Kanaan.
The CEO said they were also in the process of servicing Kanaan and to provide toilets in the area through the government’s Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG). According to Dawids crime was also under control in Kanaan since the municipality put up lights there some three years ago. “I understand there is crime there, but there is no area that is crime-free,” he further said.
Dawids said that no old people were facing eviction since the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing introduced the Poor Residence Committee to help the elderly facing eviction due to accumulated debts. He said the municipality registered senior citizens through the Poor Residence Committee and sent the list to Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing and are now awaiting a response. “Until such time that we get feedback from the ministry we cannot stop issuing bills,” said Dawids. He said that some of the affected elderly people live with their children who work and earn an income, but refuse to pay existing debts.