Landless threaten shutdown of Grootfontein municipality


Obrein Simasiku

Omuthiya-A group fighting for landless people at Grootfontein has threatened to shut down the town’s municipality in 20 days if the CEO Charles Kariko and some councillors do not step down.

The group called for the immediate intervention of Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa.

They demand the immediate removal of Kariko, whom they accuse of fraud, corruption, mismanagement and engaging in illegal sales of land.

This follows last week’s attempted land grab by approximately 100 people at the town’s Luiperdheuwel location, where they had to dispatch police who used teargas to contain the anarchy.

About five activists were arrested but later released on verbal caution.
“This is a task now at your table, Minister, to serve and save the community of Grootfontein, but if like in the past correspondence [you] ignore our demands as taxpayers, we will have no option but to close the doors of this municipality within 20 days of this demand to avoid council and its management to continue stealing public funds and corrupt deals of land,” the group warned in a petition on Monday.

They allege council sold land valued at N$30 million to Tulenga Trading Company, but that the funds never reached council coffers and therefore remain unaccounted for.

They also want to know what happened to the N$10 million council received to demolish the single quarters some years ago and replace it with new houses.

“After 27 years of Independence 80 percent of the town’s population is still without rubbish bins, unrepaired annual potholes [and] houses without sewerage pipes,” read the petition.

They further said some councillors had taken it upon themselves to do the recruitment of employees at the municipality – many of whom are their relatives – and therefore bypass the human resources office.

Efforts to obtain comment from Kariko proved futile as his phone went unanswered.
In a separate plea, the group petitioned the Ministry of Safety and Security to demand the removal of local station commander Inspector Ester Mainga, whom they accuse of having directed officers to use teargas against demonstrators.

In response to this, Mainga said she could not comment on the calls for her head because she does not make such decisions.

Romping to her defence, however, came Otjozondjupa police regional commander, Commissioner Armas Shivute, who said Mainga acted professionally and in good faith.
“I will not accept their demand,” Shivute vowed.


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