Katima Mulilo-The Katima Mulilo Town Council yesterday continued its drive to demolish houses erected illegally on its land, leaving dozens of families in the open.
Homes were demolished in the settlements of Choto, Cowboy, Dairy, Maravan East and West and in Mahohoma, with council saying the houses were constructed by illegal squatters.
Houses constructed without council’s approval of building plans were also targeted.
Hundreds of houses have to date been demolished in an exercise that started last week with the removal of about 100 illegal structures in Lwanyanda area.
When New Era visited the areas yesterday the despondent residents whose homes were reduced to rubbles were breathing fire.
“We are not foreigners, we are Namibians and we have identification documents. But the way we are being treated is unfair. When they come they don’t even allow you to remove your belongings, they will just bring your house down. Even the colonisers never treated people this way,” said Cowboy resident Ivonia Kabende.
Residents are blaming the newly appointed town chief executive officer Raphael Liswaniso for their new predicament. However, Katima Mulilo Town Council spokesperson Pasval Elijah explained that residents were informed through public meetings and radio broadcasts that council would demolish all illegal structures in the town and all houses built without the council approval.
“When you build in town your structure has to be approved by council. Some structures were just built without council’s consent, because if they were built with council’s consent, council could have definitely approved such structures, but not even building plans were approved, they just built on their own,” said Elijah.
Those whose homes were destroyed did not know where to spend the night yesterday.
“This has been our home for over two years, and now we are left stranded and not knowing where to go,” said 47-year-old Chaze Pili, who housed nine people in the Dairy settlement.
Chaze lived with her 89-year-old mother, whose old age social grant fed the entire family. “All of us are unemployed, we only depend on my mother’s pension,” she said.
The now homeless residents are asking why council charged them for water services if their structures and homes were illegally constructed.
“We have been paying N$135 monthly to council all these years, until August when the new CEO came to office. That’s when everything stopped, and now they came and demolished our homes,” said another Cowboy resident Beatrice Muyakwabo.
“Now we are just sleeping outside as we have nowhere to go, and it is even about to rain. This means our situation will worsen if that happens,” added another resident Ben Munzie.
Elijah explained that where the council has recognised illegal settlers and provided them with services, houses would not be demolished until a new place has been identified for relocation.
“The only houses which were brought down are those which are not recognised by council. Some of them, even though are there illegally, are recognised by council and we have been providing them with water services. These houses have not been brought down,” said Elijah.