By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Government has served eviction notices and thrown out 31 illegal occupants from its houses since July last year. The Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication has been involved in a covert operation and through the exercise its officials have booted out illegal occupants from its houses in the different regions. Government houses have been misused and vandalized by illegal occupants, depriving the government of much needed revenue in terms of rent. The misuse and vandalism were partly due to the ministry’s lack of a credible asset register due to negligence in not entering or updating information involving these fixed assets hence the delayed action. Nineteen of the evicted illegal tenants are from Windhoek, seven are from Oshakati, one each from Okahandja, Rehoboth and Swakopmund and two from Katima Mulilo, spokesperson from the ministry, Julius Ngweda, confirmed to New Era yesterday. The evictions are part of the ministry’s efforts to root out corruption within its ranks and to remedy the worrying state of affairs in the Fixed Assets Division dealing with housing. Bona fide civil servants have already taken occupation of the 31 houses from where the illegal tenants were evicted. “We have taken up a policy not to leave these houses unoccupied for a long time to avoid vandalism,” Ngweda stated. The figure of families to be evicted could go up soon as the ministry is just waiting for eviction orders from the Office of the Attorney General in the Ministry of Justice, Ngweda said. “Some of those who were evicted left without hesitation while some are trying to be difficult, they do not want to move. We are just waiting for the Office of the Attorney General to advise us on the way forward (how to deal with such cases),” Ngweda added. The eviction exercise is still on and its conclusion is indefinite. Though he could not provide the exact figure, the spokesperson added that eviction letters have been hand-delivered to some of the illicit tenants who have been given a grace period of 30 days to find alternative accommodation or be thrown onto the streets, together with their property. These letters were sent out based on the information gathered by different teams that were sent in the field by the ministry at the beginning of the campaign. New Era could not establish whether any charges will be formulated against the illegal tenants but according to Ngweda, the Office of the Attorney General would advise the ministry accordingly. Ngweda could also not specify how many government houses are presently occupied illegally. He however said that this could only be established once the information gathered by teams is processed. This information is currently with the department of fixed assets, he said. Minister Joel Kaapanda during the launch of this campaign said the eviction of illicit tenants is in response to an executive order by President Hifikepunye Pohamba to the ministry to stop vandalism of government houses and “to move speedily to evict all illegal occupants from government flats and houses”.
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