Dust refuses to settle at Toko Koopman Primary School

12 Jan 2017 09:50am
By Charlotte Nambandja and Maqonda Ndlovu

KANUBEB, 11 JAN (NAMPA) – The dispute over land which saw the Toko Koopman Primary School at Kanubeb near Rehoboth closed seven years ago, has not yet been resolved.
The chairperson of the Kanubeb Community Development Pieter Louw, spoke to Nampa about the plight of community members in an interview last Friday.
“We are in the dark and our children just roaming around,” Louw said.
The school buildings belong to the State, while the farm is owned by Nicholas van Wyk and his nephew Samuel Jacobus Koopman, who appear to be at each other’s throats over the land the school is situated on.
Speaking to Nampa telephonically this week, Van Wyk said the school was closed after Koopman wrote a series of letters to the Ministry of Education demanding money from them, and misrepresenting himself as the sole owner of the farm.
“He told government officials he was the sole owner of the farm and demanded money from government. He then said if government does not pay, he will close the school, which he did after the latter failed to pay,” said Van Wyk.
It is alleged that Koopman said the school was a breeding ground for criminals as the children who attended the school were unruly and a nuisance in the community.
This was disputed by Louw, who said the school was in fact of great help to the community.
“We also used it for community meetings, church services as well as as a health centre, as the Ministry of Health conducted several immunisation campaigns there,” he added.
In addition, the school provided water to the community as the boreholes on the school grounds were repaired and maintained by the Ministry of Education.
“We all depended on the two water boreholes here,” Louw said.
Lower primary school children and Grade Seven learners were the most affected as they now have to travel to Groot Aub or Rehoboth daily to attend school.
Contacted for comment, Koopman said the Ministry of Education has all the answers related to the closure of the school.
“I will not comment on the closure of the school, I advise you to talk to the ministry,” he said.
He also said he is open for discussion with regards to the reopening of the school.
“Ministry officials, myself, the community and my relatives can have an honest and open discussion about that issue,” he said.
Khomas Director of Education, Gerard Vries told this news agency the Toko Koopman Primary School issue was a “can of worms”.
“Government will not make any comments about that issue. We are awaiting for all submissions to be made before we pronounce ourselves on the matter,” he said.
Approached by Nampa on Tuesday, Windhoek Rural Constituency Councillor Penina Iita expressed hope that the school would be opened again.
“It is unfortunate that I found the school closed down when I became the councillor, but I believe something can be done about it,” she said, adding that government could not do much about the matter.
“I understand it is an inheritance issue and we do not involve ourselves with that. We have tried addressing it with the elected community committee, but we need support from the whole community.”
Letters made available to this news agency revealed that Koopman wrote letters to the ministry saying there were between 10 and 20 school-going children in the area, hence it is not viable to have the school operational.
In the letter he suggested that children be relocated to other schools to save costs and said if the school is not closed, he would then be forced to demand rent of N.dollars 20 000 a month from the ministry.