Land Grab – Reho Pleads for Patience

THE Rehoboth Town Council has called for patience among residents while it acquires and demarcates erven in accordance with the law.

The council’s announcement comes after it obtained an interim order at the High Court in Windhoek last week prohibiting Baster kaptein John McNab and councillor Jan van Wyk, in their capacity as leaders and representatives of the Rehoboth Baster Gemeente, from illegally allocating land to residents for residential purposes.

The land-grab in the town has caused unrest over the past few months, with scores of angry residents staging a demonstration over the issue two months ago.

Rehoboth mayor Eva Maasdorp said in a statement this week that no individual, political group, revolutionary group, concerned group or others, recognised or not, are vested with the legal mandate to grab land illegally.

“We want to urge individuals to refrain from (engaging in) intimidation and illegitimate activities of people who deliberately want to derail peace and tranquility in our town. We furthermore wish to inform the public of Rehoboth that community members who have signed legal agreements with council will be granted such land upon availability, and also in line with requirements that the plots are planned and surveyed,” she said.

Maasdorp said that although it is the constitutional right of all residents to own a place to live in, residents should remember that it should be obtained within the legal parameters of the country and be guided by relevant local authorities in terms of the town planning schemes of the respective authorities.

“The Rehoboth Town Council and the law-abiding residents regard the interim order granted by the High Court a victory to the benefit of all,” she said.

Meanwhile, the town’s manager of corporate affairs and human resources, Willie Swartz, has been accused of trying to evade legal proceedings for allegedly threatening members of the Khaimabasen Committe with a firearm in 2012.

According to Khaimabasen member Riaan Eichab, following the release of the committee’s agenda to expose alleged corruption at the council, Swartz threatened him and other committee members with a firearm and a case was opened against him with the Rehoboth police under case number 146012012.

Eichab said that since then, some members of the Rehoboth police have tried to sweep the case under the carpet but the prosecutor general has ordered that the case be re-opened.

“Swartz was supposed to appear before the court twice in January 2014 but failed to do so on both occasions,” he said.

Eichab said that a warrant of arrest was issued against Swartz for failing to appear in the Rehoboth magistrates’ court. He also said that police have not confiscated the firearm that he allegedly used to threaten them, making them feel vulnerable as they claim Swartz was still issuing threats against them.

Contacted for comment, Swartz denied the allegations, saying that he had informed the prosecutors why he could not appear in court and dismissed the allegation that he was defying court orders.

“Those reasons are between the prosecutors and I. I will not entertain mud-slinging from hooligans who just want to tarnish my name and the name of the authorities in charge of this case,” he said.

Swartz also confirmed that he is still in possession of the alleged firearm, adding that it has not been confiscated because he owns a firearm licence.

He added that he and the town’s CEO, Theo Jankowski, had received threats from some residents in the line of their duty in January this year.

“We were physically assaulted in full view of the council staff by the same people,” he said.

Source : The Namibian