Soldiers Live in Toilet

TWO soldiers attached to the VIP Protection Unit, who have been living in a toilet at an old TB hospital in Windhoek for the past four years, face eviction.

Sam Tjavara and his roommate are among 30 police and army officers who could be thrown out into the cold soon if the authorities have their way.

Some of the officers have been staying at the run-down complex near the Windhoek central prison in Khomasdal since 2002.

The group’s spokesperson, Haufiku Paulus Mandume, told The Namibian that they were verbally informed on Thursday to vacate the building on Monday by army officers from Otavi.

They, however, defied the order to move out, saying they have nowhere else to go. When The Namibian visited the building yesterday late afternoon, the officers were still at the building.

Some of the male officers were fixing their cars while some female officers were lazing around.

Neither the police nor the army have admitted issuing the evacuation orders. Instead, they both denied owning the building.

Mandume said the two soldiers who told them to leave the building did not have any document or an eviction order from any court.

“This is not the way to do things. They cannot expect us to move in the middle of the month. Even if we had money to rent somewhere, where will we find accommodation at short notice?” Mandume said yesterday, requesting that they be issued with a legal document and be given ample time to move out.

“The least they could do is give us three months to find alternative accommodation or if they insist that we move out now they should then provide us the alternative accommodation,” said Mandume.

A soldier, Karukoro Tiktop, who shares a room with his family of five and another family of six, expressed frustration over the eviction: “What will I do? I have a family and my kids go to school here. My salary will not be enough to pay for rent and to cover our other needs.”

Tiktop said he was transferred to Windhoek in 2010 after completing a training course, “I came to stay here and my family joined me in 2010 and we have been staying here ever since.”

Tiktop’s partner Kavitjimo Mbaha said she was at her wits’ end because of the looming homelessness: “Even if we move to Goreangab dam or Havana, it will increase our expenses as our children will have to take a taxis to school, whereas here, they just walk to school.”

She said they could go back to Opuwo but then schools do not accept children transferring in the middle of the year?

Tjavara who shares a toilet with another officer, said they have been staying in this squalor for four years.

“We have been staying in this place for four years. We cook our food here and use the toilet and shower. The toilet does not flush because it is broken, which is unhygienic. What can we do?” said Tjavara, whose average salary is N$2 000 per month.

Their situation is incompatible because the stove on which they cook is next to the dirty toilet pot, which has dry faeces stuck to it. The pungent smell coming from the small room makes it hard to think that people spend the night in that place.

“We are really suffering. Imagine, we protect people like the President and other important persons but we live in these conditions. It is almost a sin,” said Tjavara, adding that he had applied for a house from the National Housing Enterprise without success.

Police officer Richard Tjambara said he was deployed to Windhoek after training in Swakopmund in 2007 and has been staying at the old hospital ever since.

“My two children joined me in 2012 for their tertiary education after they completed Matric in Opuwo,” said Tjambara, adding that his daughter and son are in second year programmes at the International University of Management and Polytechnic of Namibia, respectively.

Police officer Teopolina Ndapewa, a mother of two toddlers, says she has no idea what she will do with her furniture.

“I have no family here, they are in the north. What will I do with my things? It is not that we don’t want to move. The problem is, where will we get rooms at this time of the month?” she asked.

Warrant officer Christine Fonsech says she knew of the eviction, but points out that the building belongs to the NDF.

Permanent secretary Petrus Shivute could not be reached for comment as he was said to be attending a meeting but an official who declined to give his name, said he was aware of the evictions but said the building belongs to the Namibian Police and they were in the best position to comment.

“We know about the evictions, but they are not from us,” said the officer.

Police spokesperson Edwin Kanguatjivi confirmed the eviction saying the are plans to build a new health facility there, “There are arrangements to have a health facility constructed there. the building belongs to the NDF and they are the ones who informed the police that the people should move out of that place.”

Defence Minister Nahas Angula said he did not know of the eviction but said the building belongs to the police and referred further questions to them.

Health ministry spokesperson, Ester Paulus could not be reached for comment.

Source : The Namibian