Land grabbers whose houses were demolished by the Katima Mulilo Town Council at the beginning of this month, precipitating a firestorm of criticism, on Friday marched to the office of the Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu where they handed over a petition with their grievances.
The group was led by the leader of the official opposition party DTA, McHenry Venaani, and former CEO of Katima Mulilo Town Council Charles Nawa, who read out the petition.
In the petition the group demanded the resignation of the current Katima Mulilo CEO Raphael Liswaniso and the entire council management for “demolishing their homes without a court order”.
They also demanded the resignation of the police regional commander Commissioner Karel Theron for helping the town council demolish their homes without a court order.
“This is a free Namibia and we know our rights, meaning the Namibian police took the law into their own hands. We don’t know why they were shooting on us.
“Did our commissioner receive the court order? Can he confirm the court order? A highest office in the region, to take such a decision without a court order, is that not violation of our law?” the illegal land occupiers questioned.
“We need to see the commissioner and station commander face the law … Our worship the mayor of Katima Mulilo Georgina Mwiya-Simataa and all the councillors, including the CEO on probation of two months, must be charged for not following the constitution in which they took oath, which they have violated,” read the petition.
The group further demanded they be compensated with immediate effect for all the losses they suffered during the demolition.
“Where can we go now in this rainy season? …What can we do? We are sleeping under the trees with our kids, no food, no shelter. The disaster management office is quiet, Red Cross is quiet, why? Because they were told – leave the issue of those people for them,” they charged.
“Our humble request to the government is to accelerate compensation.”
The group said that should their demands not be met within seven working days they would hold another demonstration.
Upon receiving the petition Zambezi Governor Sampofu said he would forward it to central government.
He said that issues which can be dealt with at regional level, like the establishment of a reception centre, would “also be attended to”.
Sampofu could not however hide his disappointment in seeing Nawa lead the demonstration. “To the former chief executive officer, Nawa Nawa. I really regret seeing you on the other side, I thought you will be this side. Because what the town council did you also did when you were the chief executive officer.”
Sampofu was making reference to the time when the Katima Mulilo Town Council under the leadership of Nawa demolished illegal structures at Makaravani East, where over 1,000 youth in 2015 had grabbed land. At that time Nawa was at loggerheads with the land grabbers.
On one occasion he locked himself in his office after the land grabbers gathered outside and threatened to stone him. The police had to be called to escort him to his car.
••• Caption (Centre):
Surprise… Ironically the former Katima CEO Nawa Charles Nawa, with the megaphone, read the petition on behalf of Katima Mulilo residents whose houses were demolished.
Photo: Aron Mushaukwa