Forced removals in Windhoek
The City said it faces a continuous proliferation of informal settlements as a result of land invasion and that they will remove the illegal incomplete, illegal unoccupied and illegal occupied structures, by seeking court orders to remove them.
Joshua Amukugo, Spokesperson, City of Windhoek said most of these informal settlement areas have developed on City-owned land which is reserved for future residential, institutional and business development. “This unprocedural occupation of the City’s land makes planning and service delivery by the City very difficult if not impossible, for example such incidents tend to delay land delivery, which is intended to eventually improve the living standards of the low income earners,” emphasied Amukugo.
He added that the municipality by-laws are very clear and anyone who is found contravening them will be dealt with. “It is illegal to settle on municipal land without it being allocated to you and thus contrary to that, the law enforcement will continue to enforce the by-laws as required at all times,” he warned.
He acknowledged that the City of Windhoek understands the predicament in which residents find themselves due to the severe lack of serviced land to meet the high demand. “We are not denying the housing need in the City, but we need to follow proper procedures on how to acquire land and not illegally settle anywhere,” he advised.
Amukugo also explained that illegal settlements hinder the provision of services like water leading to wastage of a scarce commodity. “Let us all take the responsibility of saving as much water as possible wherever we find ourselves,” he said.
The City has also verified that especially in Windhoek informal settlements are growing at an alarming pace. “It is estimated that sections of North Western Windhoek grows at a rate of approximately 10% per annum, while the overall City population growth is estimated at 4% per annum,” confirmed City of Windhoek Public Relations Officer, Lydia Amutenya.
Gerry Shikesho, Senior Superindent, City Police also stated that most of these shacks are owned by prominent people who use them for illegal business and as means of accommodation for poor residents who can not afford rental fees in the more formal parts of Windhoek.
The City has previously been widely condemned for demolishing shacks in informal settlements, which it claimed have been put up on its land illegally, and after it has warned the public to desist from erecting illegal shacks.
In March 2014, a scuffle between the police and the community members of Goreangab informal settlement erupted over the destruction of their corrugated iron shacks. The scuffle led to community members becoming violent and demolishing buildings in the area, as well as damaging several police vehicles.