Windhoek-The High Court judge dealing with the urgent application of 15 people who were unceremoniously evicted from their homes in 7de Laan, Otjomiuse, on March 28 has requested the evictees to provide proof that they have been residing in the area for more than three years as they claim.
The 15 applicants, with the assistance of Affirmative Repositioning movement, filed an urgent application with the High Court last week stating that the City of Windhoek had no legal rights to evict the residents without a court order, even though their homes were erected illegally.
During submissions, which lasted the whole day on Friday, lawyer Kadhila Amoomo aided by Henry Shimutwikeni explained to the court that their clients have been residing at the area for more than three years. Amoomo placed emphasis on the first applicant Christine Lukuwa, who is a mother of four, stating that they were fast asleep when City Police officials came banging on their door and started demolishing their shack on the morning of March 28.
“The law of eviction states that a court order may first be obtained for an eviction to take place but this was not the case. These people have minors and now they are left out in the cold sleeping on the streets,” explained Amoomo.
However, Judge Shafimana Uitele said that evidence, such as gardens or a small poultry plot, is needed to support the applicants’ version that their homes were complete structures before being demolished on the morning in question.
“If Miss Lukuwa can convince the court that she has been living on that piece of land undisturbed for an extended period of time then it is right to say that the City’s actions were not legal,” explained Uitele.
He added that there is a huge difference between a home that has been standing for three years and a recently constructed home.
The City of Windhoek through its legal representative Thabang Phatela has bluntly refuted claims that the people have lived in the area for some time, arguing that they never demolished complete structures but structures that were in the process of being erected. Phatela explained that this can be seen in the affidavit of Tom Frans, a security guard on duty at the location, who said there were only 14 homes before March 28 and all homes were marked by the municipality with paint.
“Due to the high mushrooming of shacks in the area since January, the City had to employ a security company to guard the area and report any illegal activities,” noted Phatela. The City claims the applicants’ names do not appear on the list of residents recorded to have been residing in the area when the municipality marked the homes in January and February.
The judge postponed the matter to April 7 with the court order still in effect that no further evictions and demolition should be done, confiscated properties of the residents should be returned to the respective owners and alternative accommodation be provided.
Lukuwa and her family have been living on the City’s account and are being accommodated in a bed and breakfast which costs N$400 a day.