Tenants revolt against landlords

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Obrein Simasiku

Tsumeb-Tenants residing in two separate complexes of the old mine’s single quarters in Tsumeb have revolted against their two landlords and vowed to cease paying rental fees because they (landlords) allegedly do not have the deeds of sale for the properties as proof of ownership.

Tenants allege the two landlords namely Cristo Groenewald of Ondombo and Jesaja Nashongo of Ndapandula have refused to show the deeds of sale to the people.

This was further fuelled by the tenants’ requests for low rental fees and for the rehabilitation of the seemingly dilapidated blocks. But these requests seem not to have been met, prompting the tenants to question whether the so-called landlords are indeed the rightful owners as they seem unbothered about their plight.

The occupants of the two complexes over the weekend held a meeting where Groenewald and Nashongo were invited so that they could iron out some of these issues, but only Nashongo attended while Groenewald claimed he was not invited.

It was at the meeting that Nashongo who is a pastor by profession conceded he has drawn rentals from the tenants for the past year. According to a letter presented by him, Nashongo only applied for the procurement of the complex on May 30, 2012, whereas by that time Nashongo had already started receiving rental fees from his tenants.

The letter from the Tsumeb Municipality approving the sale of the place stated that it shall be sold at the current market value and that an evaluation should be obtained from a local valuator.

Monthly rental varies from N$350 to N$2 500 depending on how big the room is. This has been the burning issue from tenants – why they should pay high rates for dilapidated rooms which lack ablution facilities and have no electricity. Ondombo’s tenants have connected their own electricity meter boxes.

The properties belonged to TLC through Ongopolo mining company before its closure, where Groenewald was the property manager. It was after that that some properties were sold.
The tenants have threatened to take legal action against the duo, while Groenewald countered saying if they will stop paying rent then he will take legal action.

Some of the issues came to light due to the involvement of the Worker Advisory Council’s Association chaired by Ericah Beukes who stated that their interest grew in the matter as they were already fighting for former TLC workers whose N$200 million pension which was invested in South Africa was not paid out when it declared its insolvency.

“These properties were supposed to have been sold in order to pay the former workers who didn’t receive their pension because it belongs to the former employers, but now we established that these estates were sold dubiously to certain  individuals,” stressed Beukes.
Beukes stated that they have investigated and seen the deeds of sale but could not see the proof of sale to Groenewald and Ndapandula.

Meanwhile, Groenewald said that no one has ever come to him requesting the deed of sale, contrary to the claims of the tenants’ committee members who have been engaging with Groenewald demanding to see the deed of sale to prove he is the owner of the property.

“Even that professional person they requested to help them didn’t even come to me requesting the copy, but went on to have a meeting because she has also been influenced by the group to believe in their cheap politics. I do have the copy with me,” stated Groenewald.

With regard to the burning issue of rent and dilapidated facilities, he acknowledged the place is indeed old, but was quick to note that he has plans to renovate the property in future.

“Renovating requires huge capital hence I am still building on that, but if they don’t pay I will only go for the legal route and I am afraid for those single mothers living with their kids,” he stated.

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