Community of Opuwo demonstrates for school land

15 Oct 2014 17:20pm
OPUWO, 15 OCT (NAMPA) – Some Opuwo residents are unhappy about the sale of a portion of land on which the Putuavanga Secondary School is situated, to a property developer.
The community members, as well as some of the school’s staff and learners, staged a peaceful demonstration last Friday from around 10h15 to express their unhappiness over the sale of the land by the town council.
The decision to demonstrate was taken last Wednesday after employees of the developer, only known as ‘Schneider’, started cutting the school’s fence to start the construction process.
When they were asked to stop doing so by the school’s principal Richard Tjazapi, the developer got lawyers involved.
Tjazapi was warned by both the lawyer and by the Director of Education, Simon Tsuseb not to interfere in the construction or he would have to bear the costs of any effects the involvement might have on the development of the land.
Tsuseb said he did not want his directorate to be held liable for the costs of any delays to the construction work. He added that the land was legally acquired by the developer despite it overlapping on the current school premises.
The land was sold to the developer between 2002 and 2003, and the Deed of Sale was only processed by the local Deeds' Office from 2008 and it was issued in 2011.
If the erf in question is allowed to be developed, the school’s fence and one of the school buildings will have to be demolished to make way for the seven houses that are expected to be built on the land.
Upon completion, the fences of the houses will be situated about 12 metres away from the administration block of the school.
Reading out a petition on Friday, Weich Mupya who was selected by the community to draw up the petition on the community’s behalf, explained that the erven numbered 351-358 was State land when the Opuwo Town Council sold it to Schneider in 2002.
“The Opuwo Town Council management at the time made a huge mistake. The town council should rectify its mess by giving land to the developer that belongs to the town and leaving the school land on its own to be developed for the purpose of the education,” Mupya said.
Receiving the petition, Opuwo mayor Tuarungua Kavari said he was sorry that Government property was sold for private use.
“It is true that the town council sold the said land, but that was done by our predecessors who were here 10 years ago, and now we have to take that blame today,” Kavari said.
He indicated that it was unfortunate that the issue was only brought to their attention now as it could have been addressed if they had known about it earlier.
The councillors who were in office when the land in question was sold were Karee Mupya; Katahunda Matundu; Lydia Kavetu and Linda Tjindandi, all from the DTA of Namibia; Ndasounye Amuyela and Kenatjironga Muharukua of the Swapo-Party; and Kemumwine Tjipundi of the National Patriotic Front (NPF).
The Chief Executive Officer of the Opuwo Town Council, Alphons Tjiombo provided Nampa with documents dating back to 2008 which prove that the sale of the land in question was done procedurally.
A decision was taken to compensate the Government for the sale of the land by providing it with another erf.
One of the letters from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development states that “Approval has been granted in terms of section 30 (1) (t) of the Local Authorities Act, 1992 (Act 23 of 1992) as amended, to the council to transfer erven 351- 358 into Schneider's name and erf 33 belonging to the Opuwo Town Council into the name of the Government of Namibia”.
This letter was signed by Erastus Negonga, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Regional Local Government, Housing and Development at the time.
Another document provided to this news agency was a letter signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, George Simataa, who also confirmed the transfer of the plots to the developer.
This news agency spoke to Tsuseb, who indicated that the Ministry of Education could not do anything to prevent Schneider from building on the land as all procedures were followed up to Cabinet level.
“We cannot spearhead the process of claiming the land allocated to the developer and prevent him from building, but if we have to support the Ministry of Works or the town council in negotiations for other land to be allocated to the developer, we will appreciate that,” he said.