Tuhingireni residents demand that council withdraws case

16 Jul 2014 11:00am
TUHINGIRENI, 16 JUL (NAMPA) – The dust is refusing to settle around the ongoing battle between residents of the Tuhingireni informal settlement on the eastern outskirts of Rundu and the town council.
The disgruntled residents have now issued demands to the town council to withdraw the court case against 13 residents of Tuhingireni, whom the council has taken to court for allegedly illegally settling in the area and building permanent structures there.
According to documents in possession of this agency, the Rundu Town Council sued the residents, and the case is currently ongoing in the High Court.
In July last year, the Rundu Town Council notified residents that they were occupying a portion of land on the town’s farmland number 1329 without its authorisation.
In May this year, the council again ordered the residents settled in the Tuhingireni area along the Trans-Caprivi Highway to stop erecting permanent structures.
The disgruntled residents’ chairperson Mathew Wakudumo told this agency on Wednesday that the affected residents held a meeting on 25 June, where they resolved to stand in solidarity with the group which is being sued.
Wakudumo stated that the concerned group resolved that the council must withdraw the court case against the 13 people with immediate effect.
The group is further calling on the town council to survey the Tuhingireni area and sell it to those who reside there, or alternatively to sell the unserviced land to the current occupants at a rate of N.dollars 5 per square metre, similar to the sale of land to a Chinese investor at Rundu.
That investor, Stina Wu, bought 3 517 square metres of land from the Rundu Town Council at a cost of N.dollars 5 per square metre, as that land was not serviced.
“We believe that this arrangement is not new to the council, as the same was done at settlements like Kehemu, Ndama and Sauyemwa,” stressed Wakudumo.
Contacted for comment, the Rundu Town Council’s Chief Executive Officer Romanus Haironga confirmed today that he received a letter containing the residents’ demands, and said it will be forwarded to the council for their attention.
He noted that the concerned residents will be informed of the council’s decision once such a decision is taken.
At a meeting held at the Tuhingireni informal settlement last month, the town councillors refused to discuss the court case when pressed by residents, and rather said the court will pronounce itself on the matter.
During the same meeting, the town council apologised for earlier threats to evict the over 2 000 residents from the Tuhingireni informal settlement.
The town’s mayor Hilka Levi told the gathering that the council only issued letters to certain residents settled on the eastern side of Tuhingireni for allegedly settling there illegally, and erecting permanent structures.
She indicated that there is currently an ongoing court case against such residents, but did not want to discuss it further.
The Rundu Town Council management committee’s chairperson, Johannes Murenga said during the same meeting that the council had warned the affected people not to build permanent structures in advance, but they defied the council’s orders and continued developing the area, which he said was a violation.
The disputed land is not serviced, and has no basic services such as water, electricity or a sewerage network.