TSUMEB – Dangerous snakes have become a daily nuisance at the historic Endobo compound in Tsumeb, with a family recently getting a rude awakening by snakes crawling out of the building’s cracked wall.
A man who lives with his wife and child in the compound as a tenant blamed the situation on the landlord’s refusal to improve conditions in the compound.
“I am so scared, I don’t think my child and wife are safe anymore, we have been pleading for the man to at least fix the walls but he is making millions out of us, the poor and refuses to even fix the walls or the roof,” the compound resident, who asked to be anonymous, said.
Pointing at the roof that had open spaces, the gentleman showed New Era the leaking roof as well as the floor that is disintegrating.
The man said he was so unhappy that the owner of the compound, Christo Groenewaldt, was ignoring the calls of thousands of residents staying there whilst he was making so much money
“He knows that we are poor, but we are also Namibians, if it is his business it does not mean he can do with us as he pleases” said the angry family man.
The compound that formerly belonged to the Ongopolo Mine in Tsumeb that closed down, now belongs to the former Property Manager of Ongopolo, Christo Groenewaldt.
There are about 167 rooms with about 5 to 6 people on average living in each room.
Groenewaldt is accused of mistreating residents that request for better living conditions at the dormitories. The compound was formerly home to President of Namibia, Hifikepunye Pohamba and other liberation icons like Toivo ya Toivo that stayed there during the liberation struggle as mineworkers.
The residents say that rental prices are increased randomly with no consultation and people are forced to stay there as life is very hard for those that don’t make a decent living.
When contacted for comment Groenewaldt said he was aware of the problems, however, some of the problems such as disintegrating floors and walls were caused by the tenants themselves.
“During the time that mineworkers stayed there, there were concrete beds in each room as it was for individual mineworkers and they asked that they remove the beds to create more space and in the process walls and floors were damaged and now they are giving me unrealistic demands and timeframes to fix things” he said
He further noted that he already started the process of renovations which has in the meantime stopped as his contractor had another construction site to attend to.
“I started addressing most of the problems but during that process my contractor had to move to another site and it is just unfortunate that it took such a long for him to get back to this business”
He further noted that he was the cheapest in town and also the property is the “cleanest” in that area
Those staying there have accused Groenewaldt of threatening tenants to vacate the premises if they do not wish to stay there.
Groenewaldt said that the demand for housing is so high that he would fill up the place in no time if they all decide to vacate the property.
“Look I am being reasonable, yes I am sympathetic about the toilets and stuff but if I put up doors they steal them, if they all leave I will fill up that place in no time as the demand is very high in this town.