Heartbreak for gardener

Council destroys flourishing family garden

10 October 2019 | Local News

Unemployed Domingo Kativa (57) stood by helplessly yesterday when the Rundu town council demolished his strawberry, cabbage, maize, tomato, spinach, guava and maize crops next to the Kaisosi sewage pond.

Kativa could also not collect any of his crops that were ready for consumption, as council barred him from doing so. Two bakkies filled with special reserve force police officers watched with eagle eyes.

The Council demolished Kativa's garden because it was established without the consent of the local authority. Also, by law, no gardening project should take place within a 500-metre radius of a sewage pond.

This was the second time his crops were destroyed, after his fence was removed and the area cleared in March. Kativa said he decided to establish the garden because he is unemployed. The garden fed his family of 13. He said he moved to the site because the land his wife has at the Salem irrigation project was too small. Kativa used the raw sewage water to water his plants.

When asked whether he sold his produce, Kativa denied doing so.

However, the council claims he is lying. Kativa is adamant his produce is fit for human consumption, as his family has never fallen sick from eating it. “I will see how I can feed my family,” he said. He also pleaded for a piece of land where he can establish a garden. Council spokesperson Benjamin Makayi conceded they did not do a proper job of overseeing the sewage pond. He added council was fed up with Kativa's behaviour, as he had been warned on several occasions to stop his gardening project and apply for a piece of land.

“That is why we decided to come and destroy the garden,” Makayi said. Livestock also drink the raw sewage water from the pond and residents fish from it and sell their catch, which could pose a health hazard for thousands of Rundu residents. Makayi said the council has not budgeted to construct a fence around the pond. He explained they have had engagements with community members to warn them of the dangers of allowing their livestock to drink from the pond.

He said the sewage pond is old and council has constructed newer ones at Rundu's Ndama informal area.

Makayi also revealed the pump that relays waste from the Kaisosi pond to the newer ones has been broken for some time.

KENYA KAMBOWE