OMUTHIYA - About 20 tenants of Endombo compound in Tsumeb suffered another blow after a failed attempt to have the High Court declare an order of eviction instituted by the landlord null and void.
The tenants have been refusing to vacate the property despite having been served with numerous eviction notices and court orders.
They have reportedly been defaulting on their monthly rental since May 2017.
In court papers, the owner of the property Christo Groenewald testified that “as at 6 May 2020, the total outstanding unpaid rental owed by the defendants stands at N$684 360 and the amount increases with N$17 000 per month.”
Groenewald had served notices on the tenants, calling on them to honour their lease obligations but no avail.
This prompted the landlord to issue lease-termination notices to which the tenants strongly objected.
The bone of contention is that residents have been disputing that Groenewald is the legitimate owner, as well as objecting to rental increment.
Another reason cited in court papers was the failure for the landlord to renovate the property despite several requests.
The property is in a deplorable condition.
The tenants further argued the property was not designated as habitable.
Having heard arguments from both parties, High Court Judge Boas Usiku in his judgement delivered on September 11, granted the plaintiff relief and the matter was removed from the court roll.
Usiku then granted an order for the 20 tenants to vacate the compound by 30 September of which failure to adhere, the deputy sheriff for the district of Tsumeb would be authorised and directed to evict them.
“The defendants and all persons holding under them, are evicted from the respective units and from the immovable property as more fully described in Deed of Transfer No.T.3258/2006,” read part of the judgment.
In addition, the defendants were ordered, jointly and severally to pay the costs of the suit for the plaintiff, including wasted costs of the 11 and 12 May 2020 and such costs include costs of one instructing and one instructed counsel.
Meanwhile, committee member Johannes Kamati briefly told New Era that they intend to approach the Supreme Court to appeal the matter, saying justice was not served.
“None have been evicted so far because we intend to appeal the judgment of the High Court, therefore we still have a long way ahead,” he said.
The leader of the opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) McHenry Venaani had proposed a motion that was adopted in parliament suggesting that Endombo compound be expropriated for fair compensation.
At the time, he proposed that the land be expropriated to establish decent housing for the residents.
On Wednesday, he reiterated his stance on the matter again in parliament, of which the land reform minister Calle Schlettwein said the issue of Endombo is difficult to address as it does fall under a municipal area, hence cannot be dealt with based on the Commercial Farmland Act thus expropriation would not be possible.
“The reason is that the property is under a municipal area and not farmland, thus it is impossible to use such piece of legislation. As you maybe aware as a minister, I cannot intervene on matters that are before courts. Now that we have the outcome, we will read the judgement and see if we can challenge the ruling, other than that, it is out of our hands to deal with,” stressed Schlettwein.
Countering the argument of the land reform minister, Venaani said it was not clear yet whether the land in question formed part of the municipal boundary or outside the town, which could fall under the land reform ministry.
“If you articulate article 16 of the constitution, I don’t think it only limits expropriation of land to farmland, so it only talks about land in national interest. In our view, public interest is key here,” pressed Venaani, urging lawmakers to take the matter seriously.
Endombo compound belonged to Tsumeb Corporation Limited, which was used to house contractual mineworkers. TCL was liquidated in 1998. All assets of TCL were taken over by Ongopolo Mining and Processing Limited Company. Groenewald took ownership of the property in 2002.