Illegal Settlers Squat in Tsumeb’s Town Centre

TSUMEB – While squatter camps continue to grow on the outskirts of Tsumeb, informal settlers have resorted to putting up structures in the town centre that they use as shops during the day and homes during the evening.

It has become an eyesore for both residents and tourists who have to deal with crowded roads and unhygienic conditions as squatters even use the area to defecate. Not too far from where they answer the call of nature, the squatters sell fruit and vegetables to the residents of Tsumeb as well as tourists.

When New Era visited the vendors, many were reluctant to speak. However, an elderly woman agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. She claimed that for too long they have been struggling to find jobs and a decent place to live and they have now decided to make a living and secure a place to stay at the same time. Up to about 50 small businessmen and women, some with families, have occupied the area. They range from the age of 30 to about 55 – some with small children and others with teenage children who help their parents run their businesses.

“Even those at the municipality know that some of us live on the streets because we don’t have homes.” Asked whether she knew that it was illegal to squat there she snapped, “Where must I go? It seems I will not get a piece of land, so I have my shop and a place for my children.”

Asked why use the area as toilets, she pointed to tree a stone’s throw away from her ‘shops’ saying the service stations nearby do not allow them.

“Our children have nowhere to use the toilet so we let them sit here.”

There is a bad stench at some of the shops while others maintain that they keep their shops clean at all times. It is not clear where these settlers used to run their businesses from before they resorted to illegally squatting there. Detailed questions were sent to the Public Relations Officer of the Tsumeb Municipality, Stella Imalwa, questioning whether the local authority was aware of the situation and whether there are any plans to address the issue. All questions went unanswered at the time of going to print.

Source : New Era