The Katima Evangelical Bible Church has accused the Katima Mulilo Town Council of selling, through dubious means, a piece of land that the church has been occupying for the past 21 years.
This allegation emerged after the town council sold plot 802 in the settlement of Choto to one Calvin Shamapande.
New Era has established the church had occupied the plot as one under Erf 1361, however when the council formalised Choto in 2010, the plot was divided into four sections.
Pastor Dickson Chiyuka argues that having occupied the plot before it was sub-divided into four they were supposed to be given the first option to buy all four properties.
“The town council did not give us any offer letters, they only gave us the offer letter for 801. Upon inquiry that is when they gave us the offer letter for 803, but the offer letters for 802 and 804 were nowhere to seen,” said Chiyuka.
According to Chiyuka, they continued waiting for the offer letters but to no avail. However, sometime in 2012 they were left shell-shocked when officials from the town council showed up with a certain Christina Libanda, who is now deceased, to show her the plot at the church.
Chiyuka says Libanda refused the plot because she knew it belonged to the church.
He added that following this incident they went to inquire at the town council, where they were informed that Libanda was given another plot and the church would be given an offer letter in due course. He says they also learnt that plot 804 was given to a certain Christina Mwata, who the church had accommodated because she had no place to live.
Chiyuka pointed out that Mwata agreed to give the plot back to the church because it was given to her by mistake. However, in 2016 while they were still waiting for the offer letter they learnt that Shamapande had been apportioned plot 802 as he claims he inherited it from his late sister Libanda.
Since then Shamapande and the church have been at loggerheads over the ownership of the plot.
The church feels they are being victimised by the council, because they are of Angolan origin.
“We are disturbed by how the town council operates, they like calling us ‘those Angolans’. I am not an Angolan, and in God’s kingdom there is no Angolan, we are one. We feel the town council is discriminating against us as the majority of the church members are Namibians. We want to assure the town council that we are not going to allow Shamapange to erect any structure here,” said one of the church members.
Approached for comment, Shamapande confirmed having inherited the plot from his late sister, and he has a deed of sale (seen by New Era) from the council. He said he approached the police and opened a case against the church after they removed the markers he put up to indicate the boundary of his plot.
“The police told me that I should approach the town council to resolve the issue. In January this year we met at the town council with the pastor and his committee where it was explained to them that the plot belongs to me, and they understood. But today (Monday) when I went there to cut down some trees at the plot, he invited his congregation to fight me,” he said.
He added that he has nothing against the church, as the only thing he wants is to develop his plot. He pays rates and taxes every month, he said.
Shamapande said he would approach the town council for assistance. Efforts to get comment from the town council proved futile.