News Snippets

August 27, 2015, 8:01am

City cops get dates for murder trial

THREE Windhoek City Police officers accused of having fatally assaulted a young man in their custody in April 2013 are due to go on trial in the Windhoek High Court in June next year.

The three city policemen - Johannes Shetekela Werner, Kleopas Shikalepo Kapalanga, and Elia Nakale - were informed of the scheduled dates when their trial should start when they made a pre-trial court appearance before Judge Dinnah Usiku on Tuesday.
The dates reserved for the trial are from 6 to 17 June next year, during the week of 18 to 22 July, and during the week of 1 to 5 August 2016.
The three men are being prosecuted on counts of kidnapping, murder, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so.
The charges against them stem from the death of the 17-year-old Mandela Ramakhutla, who died in a Windhoek hospital on 24 April 2013 - eight days after he had allegedly been assaulted by the three officers.
In the indictment faced by the three accused, the prosecution is alleging that they collected Ramakhutla from a drinking place at the Katutura Single Quarters during the evening of 16 April 2013. The three officers allegedly suspected that Ramakhutla had participated in the theft of cellphones and computers from the head office of the Windhoek City Police.

Werner Menges


Mass houses vacant at Swakop

SEEING thousands of mass houses in different stages of completion at Swakopmund's DRC puts the saying “so close, yet so far” in context as thousands of homeless and landless Namibians still wait to own property.
Of all the municipalities participating in the first phase of the mass housing initiative introduced by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2013, Swakopmund got the biggest chunk of the N$2 billion national housing budget for 3 034 houses by 2016. Power-Oyeno (2 034 houses), Ferusa (600 houses) and Delta (400 houses) are the contractors for Swakopmund.
The units sprung up like mushrooms next to the DRC, providing shack dwellers an opportunity to help build the units, but also dream of owning one themselves.
The initiative, however, ground to a halt in June after urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa suspended it because the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) could not raise the N$2 billion needed to bankroll the programme meant to erect about 10 000 houses across Namibia from 2014 to 2016. Besides the suspension, Power-Oyeno is suing NHE for more than N$100 million. Power-Oyeno's contract was worth N$796 million and now it alleges that NHE breached the contract signed between the two parties in January last year by failing to pay on time.
With the suspension of the initiative and the pending lawsuit, only 76 houses at Swakopmund have been completed and handed over to beneficiaries - all former Build Together applicants of which some are now complaining that the housing units are too small. NHE senior manager for technical services and property management Uazuva Kaumbi said another 285 units have been completed but they will remain vacant due to a lack of municipal services that have yet to be installed.
“The completion of the rest will depend on further instructions about way forward. The current status is still suspension until further notice,” he said.
Swakopmund CEO Eckart Demasius explained that the erven made available for mass housing still had to go through statutory land processes and were therefore not ready.
The erven were nevertheless identified and made available and units were built on them even though the process was not completed.
“Until the statutory processes are finalised, we will not be able to service these houses. Only after they have been serviced can they be allocated,” he explained, adding that this could be at the end of the year.
The mass housing programme was supposed to make available 10 000 houses nationally by next year and 180 000 by 2030 at a cost of N$45 billion.
By Adam Hartman

Avoid land delays - experts

A GROUP of consultants has advised the government to introduce regulations that will reduce the waiting period when acquiring land. In their opinion, time limits need to be enforced on State institutions who examine land applications.
Jordaan Oosthuysen Nangolo Quantity Surveyors, who were tasked to investigate the troubled mass housing programme, also said the main culprits who delay the land proclamation process are local authorities and the department of the surveyor general in the lands ministry.
“It is clear that the (land proclamation) process is long and labourious. Getting land ready for development is taking up to 40 months at the earliest and 82 months in the latest case,” said the report given to the government two weeks ago.
The consultants further said most local authorities are causing a major hold-up in the land acquisition process due to lack of sufficient or qualified personnel.
“Solutions would be introducing a time bar for municipalities of say four months, to comment or else, the scheme (proclamation process) would automatically pass,” Jordaan Oosthuysen Nangolo Quantity Surveyors said, adding that this would eliminate a lot of inefficiencies.
Municipalities such as Windhoek are not only accused of dishing out land to well-connected people, but there is also alleged insider trading and deliberate delays in applications to give the plots to those connected to the city.
The government was also advised to set a time limit for the surveyor general's office, where they said, is also a bottleneck due to lack of sufficient or qualified personnel.
“A legislation that would time bar the surveyor general to say three months maximum, to comment else the scheme automatically passes this stage, would shave another two months,” the experts said.
The experts also advised the government to remove unnecessary duplication in the land proclamation process by combining the functions of the Townships Board and the Namibia Planning Advisory Board. This, the surveyors said would save up to four months of delays.
If the recommendations are implemented, the process can be reduced by 18 months.
A land proclamation process diagram provided by the experts in the report shows that there are up to 10 stages in getting the land before it is developed.
The first step is the identification of land followed by preparation of layout by a town planner who also investigates the need and desirability and design.
The third stage is local authority approval, which involves checking the plan prepared by the town planner who checks the condition of establishment and erf size, water, sewer, storm-water, electricity and road layout. That process takes from four to 36 months.
The next step is the job of an environmental consultant who determines the environmental impact of the proposed land use.
The fifth step is carried out by the Namibia Planning Advisory Board which deals with, among others, the specifics of the land use, the number, nature, coverage, height and situation of buildings.
Stage six involves the Townships Board, which decides over land suitability, water supply, soil and other physical features and accessibility. Each of the two boards take four to six months to finalise their functions.
Stage seven involves the land surveyor who examines the land and prepares a diagram and general plan, which is passed on to the surveyor general at the ministry of lands for approval. The surveyor general, according to the report, takes 12 to 18 months.
Stage eight is where a conveyancer drafts the legal documents of the land before passing them on to the registrar of deeds at the ministry of lands to endorse and issue a certificate of ownership.
From there, the ministry of urban and rural development takes over the process to draft a concept notice, provide legal advice, prepare documents for proclamation and then the ministerial signature. This takes around three months. After that, the process is gazetted and the actual servicing of land begins.
The Jordaan Oosthuysen Nangolo Quantity Surveyors report explicitly showed that the National Housing Enterprise failed to communicate in the mass housing project.
“We found that NHE didn't have the appropriate system to communicate and monitor the project effectively and timely. NHE shows deficiencies in communication and tackling issues in quality, cost and time management,” the report said.
According to the investigators, only site agents interacted with contractors who have little contractual power to enforce oversight required for the project. Such powers are vested in NHE head office's project manager.
“There was no evidence supplied to us, as to who was an overall project manager within NHE structures, responsible for each project's specific objectives: cost, quality or time/schedule ones. In addition, we ascertained that NHE had allocated less than sufficient resources for the entire project,” the report said.
This, according to the experts led to the lack of proper implementation of the mass housing project.
“For example, at the Karasburg site, the site manager, Theo De Klerk, pointed out that the contractor was not building brick reinforcements as specified. However, there were no proof of instruction to demolish the sub-standard works as the result of his findings,” the report said. The ministry of urban and rural development refused to comment on the report.
By Shinovene Immanuel
Courtesy The Namibian