Resident sues Katima for demolishing his house

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-One of the victims of the demolition of houses in Katima Mulilo last year that triggered a firestorm of public protest is taking the town council, the council’s CEO Raphael Liswaniso and the Minister of Urban and Rural Development to court to claim damages for the destruction of his home.

Obrean Kafuma Matongo is claiming N$1,185,216.05 for the damages he suffered plus N$200,000 for infringement of his fundamental rights. The town council demolished hundreds of homes in the settlements of Choto, Cowboy, Dairy, Maravan East, Maravan West, and in Mahohoma, which it said were constructed illegally by squatters.
Several other houses that were constructed without council approval were also demolished.

The saga unlocked a massive public outcry and the then Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa, called it unlawful, as the town council had not obtained the required court order to demolish the structures and houses built illegally. The exercise left a sizeable number of people homeless and destitute with their belongings out in the open.

According to the particulars of claim in Matongo’s lawsuit, the council unlawfully and wrongfully demolished his home at Newboy compound in Katima Mulilo on October 5, 2017.

He said the dwelling was demolished in violation of the law, without a valid court order, in contravention of Articles 8, 13 and 16 of the Namibian Constitution, which makes provision for the rights to human dignity, privacy and to own property.

He claims N$534,832.05 for the construction of his house, N$422,610.40 for household items lost and destroyed during the demolition exercise and N$210,198.60 to replace his Toyota Corolla that was damaged and destroyed, or alternatively the fair and reasonable amount to restore the vehicle to its pre-damaged condition.

He further seeks compensation in the amount of N$17,575 for the alternative accommodation costs for him and his family after his home was destroyed.

Matongo further says the conduct of the town council during the demolition constituted an infringement of his fundamental rights as enshrined and entrenched in Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution, more particularly his rights to human dignity in that he was left with no home, deprived of a sense of worth in a community in which he lived with his family and sense of belonging, and with no shelter and no basic amenities of life.

He further claims that his right to privacy as guaranteed in Article 13 was infringed upon as the town council interfered with his and his family’s privacy of their home in breach of the law, and that his belongings were left in the open. Matongo further says the town council infringed on his right to property when it damaged his right to own immovable and moveable property, in violation of Article 16 of the Constitution.

“The aforesaid infringement of the plaintiff’s fundamental rights forms part of widespread and persistent similar infringements of the fundamental rights of other Namibian citizens by defendants, in particular in Katima Mulilo,” the particulars of claim submitted by local lawyer, Henry Shimutwikeni, reads. Matongo asks for damages of N$200,000 for the latter infringements. He further asked for interest on the amounts claimed at the rate of 20% per annum from date of judgement to full payment and costs of the suit.

The Katima Mulilo Town Council, Liswaniso and the Minister of Urban and Rural Development gave notice they will defend the lawsuit.

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