The inadequate supply of ablution facilities at Omitara means residents have to use the nearby bush when responding to nature’s call, for which they are sometimes charged N$1 000 for trespassing.
Alternatively, residents risk spending time in police holding cells for trespassing if they cannot pay the fine.
The 14 pit latrines at the settlement cannot cater for the settlement’s continuous expansion, forcing some residents to opt for the bush as a measure to bring comfort. But this comes at a cost as farm owner, Hartmut Holt, does not tolerate any trespassing on his property.
Those who spoke to New Era last week said a tender was published nationally for the building of toilets at the settlement four years ago, but to date nothing much has happened. Justifying why they relieve themselves in the bush, residents said they have no alternative.
Kilus Nguvauva, the councillor of Okarukambe constituency under which the settlement falls, confirmed that he is aware that the community trespasses to relieve themselves on nearby farms and also to collect firewood.
He further said that a N$7.7 million budget was set aside by the regional council for sanitation at the settlement and that they are working towards that.
“If the people were not so many those toilets would have been sufficient but the community is growing,” said the councillor who explained that more and more people keep moving to the settlement. The majority of people living there are those who were dumped by farmers, said Nguvauva in explaining how the settlement came into being.
“We relieve ourselves in the bush and if they catch us we pay N$1 000,” said 33-year old Dominikes Ganeb, who lives at the settlement. There are security guards at the farm and when they red-handedly catch the trespassers they take them to the police station where they have to pay N$1 000 or spend time in the holding cells. You must make sure those guys don’t catch you otherwise it’s a problem,” added Ganeb.
“We are told that it’s the person’s property. It’s his land and we are not allowed there but we cannot relieve ourselves in the open,” said Ganeb, noting that at least in the bush there is a sense of privacy.
“My goats were inside the camps (bush that is part of the farm) and I went inside to take my goats out and they took me to court at Witvlei. I won the case but the magistrate told me it’s Holt’s farm so we are not allowed in there,” said Ganeb. Another resident 37-year-old Alfred Nuseb said there are many problems at Omitara but that he is particularly disturbed by the lack of ablution facilities.
“It is not good that we do not have toilets because even the elderly in the community complain that they cannot walk into the bush. It is really bad,” said Nuseb.
Another resident Aline Sarive said she was not impressed that they have to be fined for trespassing to relieve themselves.
“In August I was at Witvlei court because I went to gather wood in the bush. I won the case because I explained to the court that I went to collect wood to make fire and cook for my children. Some of us don’t have electricity and life gets really hard,” explained Sarive.
New Era tried in vain to get hold of the farm owner for comment.