7 de Laan land grab still unresolved

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Selma Ikela

Windhoek-Illegal land grabbers who have set up tents on municipal land at 7de Laan informal settlement on the western outskirts of Windhoek have defied a High Court order to vacate the land, as more tents are being erected.

Members of the City Police seem to be in a predicament, as they cannot act on the squatters, whose tents are mostly unoccupied. The squatters have somehow found a way to put up their tents, despite a security company having been contracted to prevent anyone from setting up tents at the site.

During a visit to the area yesterday afternoon, security guards watching the area said although no one sleeps in the erected tents at night, there were additional tents erected after the initial group who went to court had initially occupied land there.

Occupants on the piece of land in question were ordered by the High Court in April to vacate the area by the latest April 28.

The High Court had dismissed the group’s urgent application after the aggrieved people could not provide valid proof that they had been living in the area for the past three years before the City Police demolished their shacks on March 28 and 29.

The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement, representing the group, appealed the High Court ruling and submitted a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court against the entire judgment and its orders.

There are currently over 40 tents on site. A brief inspection showed that in some of the tents, mattresses and blankets were placed inside to indicate that people live in the tents, but the security guard watching the area was adamant that no one sleeps there.

Security guard Victoria Ndevapwa said they are there to prevent people erecting shacks, but people find a way to put up their tents, as the guards are at times dropped off late at the site. She said when they spot a person erecting a tent they call their office, which then contacts the City Police.

Ndevapwa added that some tents had been stolen, blown away by the wind, or children played with them, which caused problems as the owners tend to ask the security guards where their tents are. “If they can’t find their tents they throw stones at the guard room and insult us,” she remarked.

During the visit New Era found one only occupier, Haufiku Joseph, 24, who came to see if his tent was still intact.

Joseph explained that during the day there are no occupants, because they are mostly at work. “If you come at sunset you will find several people here,” he said. He told this reporter the number of tents were growing, “because people need land.”

Joseph, who is temporarily employed at a construction site, said he occupied the plot, because he needs his own place, as he is currently squatting with friends.

Joseph further told New Era that he does not sleep in his tent at night, but lives nearby.
“We are waiting on the municipality to give us this land, if not, then they should take us to a place where there is land,” he said.

AR founder Dimbulukeni Nauyoma refuted claims that there were more tents being erected in defiance of the High Court order. He said those who went to court are the ones who are still there.

“As far as I’m concerned the number that is there is the number that ought to be there,” he said, adding that there is a group leader in the area who does roll calls of people occupying the site. He indicated that they do not want to frustrate those who have been occupying the area for some time by allowing newcomers to settle there.

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