WRAP: We will never be held ransom over land: Matengu

KATIMA MULILO: Katima Mulilo Mayor, Charles Matengu says the Katima Mulilo Town Council will not “entertain” any demands from land protestors.

He told Nampa this on Monday shortly after over 100 people were disbursed by teargas fired by members of the Special Field Force. These protestors descended on the municipality building and blocked the main entrance gate, threatening to stay put until they have been offered plots to build houses and shops.

“Where in Namibia have you ever heard of a town council that budged to demands of protestors to get land? If Katima Town Council does so, what example will it set for the nation?

“This will in fact send a message that anybody can go with an axe and chop down trees and clear land for illegal occupations,” said the mayor.

The protestors demanded that Katima Mulilo Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Charles Nawa give them plots to build their houses, failure of which will result in them grabbing land illegally.

Most of the protestors, which included youth, pregnant women and children, hail from different informal settlements around the town but have grabbed land at Macaravan east and parts of Extension 8, where the council is busy servicing land and putting up municipal services.

Namibian Police Force and Special Field Force soldiers had to be called in to defuse and disperse the crowd who had torn down the red and white barricade tape put up to keep them away from blocking the council entrance gate.

Matengu, who described the crowd of protestors as unruly and rude, narrated that during the demonstrations, he tried talking to them but they refused to listen and continued to demand that they be allocated plots immediately; this despite procedures that need to be followed.

“I told them that the plots in the area that is being serviced will be allocated according to the list at the town council but they wanted to hear none of it. I then left because I could not deal with the crowds’ mad and foolish demands.

“The crowd was asked long ago to vacate the area or abort plans of setting up illegal structures on the plot. They know they are wrong, so today they came with hidden agendas to cause havoc and disrupt council operations and services to honest and deserving citizens,” he said.

Matengu further explained to this agency that council over the weekend requested people who had continued in their quest to clear land illegally to refrain from doing so.

“During the said meeting, illegal land occupants and grabbers said that they will not move. That crowd was smaller than what we saw today at the council offices.

“I believe the crowd was made up of mostly Zambian or Angolan descendants who entered the country illegally looking for minor jobs without even having proper documentation,” alleged Matengu.