Pupils face eviction

14 March 2019 | Education

Ohangwena chief regional officer Fillipus Shilongo has tasked regional education director Isak Hamatwi to find suitable alternative accommodation for 94 Omungwelume Senior Secondary School learners before they are evicted from a council property that is being used as a hostel.

Shilongo told Namibian Sun yesterday that the rundown property at Omungwelume, for which the government had paid N$6 million, was not bought so it could be used as a school hostel.

He said last month that the regional council would not be evicting the learners.

But Shilongo said yesterday that the 94 pupils were being accommodated without council authorisation and would be evicted.

“We are having a resolution passed by the regional council that the house cannot be occupied, because it is uninhabitable. Learners, with assistance from their parents, occupied this house last year on their own, even though they are alleging that they were instructed by the regional governor,” Shilongo said.

“I think the regional council and the governor's office need to clear up the issue completely. I have to implement the council resolution.”

Grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils from Omungwelume Senior Secondary School are living at the property, reportedly following an instruction from Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa.

Last year, after Nghaamwa visited Omungwelume, he said the situation was worrisome and that he could not stand seeing learners being accommodated in shacks while there was a public property standing vacant. The regional council was not happy with Nghaamwa's decision to accommodate the pupils without following the proper procedures.

After the council was informed by the Omungwelume settlement office that pupils from Omungwelume Senior Secondary School were occupying the house, the council conducted an inspection and found that the property was dilapidated and that the pupils were living in harsh conditions without water and electricity.

A resolution was then passed that the house is uninhabitable.

The learners' parents raised money to renovate the house and get the electricity connected, but there is no water connection, as the regional council has refused to connect the property.

Council management committee chairperson Ericson Ndawanifa said when they met last month they decided they were not going to evict the learners, because they had nowhere else to go.

Shilongo said last month that he had sent Hamatwi and council officials to assess the situation and come back with recommendations.

“The recommendation that the director came back with is for us to establish a temporary hostel for them, either within the school premises or at any suitable place near their school. This has already been communicated to the executive director for the ministry of education, Sanet Steenkamp.

“Through the director and the school, they have to find an appropriate way of assisting the learners. We fully agree that there is a need for hostel, but we need to follow the proper channels,” Shilongo said.