Stay off Gobabis land, CEO warns

22 January 2019 | Local News

The Gobabis municipality has warned people against the illegal occupation of land, saying that those found guilty of such an offence would be punished severely.

The municipality's chief executive officer, Ignatius Thudinyane, issued the warning during an interview with Nampa on Friday.

He said the local authority was struggling to curtail a sudden surge in unlawful occupation, especially in informal areas.

“People are seen clearing land on which they erect corrugated-iron structures for houses almost on a daily basis,” he said.

The situation is worse in the Canaan C Informal settlement, where such unlawful occupation has become the norm, the CEO said.

Thudinyane said the local authority lost a lot of revenue through these illegal acts, as such land could have been sold for profit.

“We will not allow lawlessness to prevail in an environment where laws and regulations are in place. Those guilty of this practice are being dealt with and we will continue doing so until law and order is restored,” he said.

Another worrying trend at Canaan C has been a rise in people with houses in more affluent residential areas demarcating land here and erecting structures which are then leased to the poor.

Others use it to operate shebeens, with the community living around these structures exposed to noise pollution while the better-off retreat to their own homes in town and elsewhere, Nampa was informed. People from as far as Windhoek and other major towns are reportedly flocking to Gobabis to set up these illegal structures, Thudinyane said.

The CEO said land in the informal areas is meant for the unemployed or those with meagre incomes for residential purposes, cautioning against it being leased.

“We are aware of this practice. Gobabis cannot become a haven for every person to just grab land and do as he pleases; there are laws in place that need to be adhered to,” he said.

Thudinyane added that the municipality had since September 2018 started removing illegal settlers, especially those that have exceeded the town boundaries.

“At the moment we want to prevent new shacks from being built unlawfully on municipal land, while we deal with those that have been occupying the land illegally for years,” he said.

The CEO said the lure of better employment prospects for locals have been a drawcard for many to settle in Gobabis, where they end up in informal settlements when such opportunities fail to materialise.