Ruling on shack demolitions out Wednesday

WINDHOEK: A ruling in a legal battle in which two men are suing the Windhoek City Council over the demolition of their shack in the Goreangab informal settlement last month, will be made public next week.

The ruling in this legal wrangle will be delivered in the High Court here on Wednesday at about 15h30.

High Court Judge Dave Smuts said this on Thursday afternoon shortly after he had listened to oral submissions and arguments presented by lawyers who represented the two parties in the matter.

In the matter, Windhoek-based high school teacher Lukas Junias and his brother Lineekela Tuhafeni Nhinda, an employee of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, are suing the Windhoek City Council (respondents) over the demolition of their corrugated iron structure they erected on a piece of land in the informal settlement in Goreangab on the western outskirts of Windhoek.

Both Junias and Nhinda (applicants) are asking the Windhoek High Court to order the City Council to restore their shack and allow occupation of that plot of land in the Goreangab area, and to stop municipal employees from demolishing and removing any structure or building belonging to them, or evicting them, from that piece of land.

Advocate Thabang Phatela, who represented the Windhoek City Council, argued that the applicants were not evicted from the land itself, but that the illegal structure they erected was dismantled and removed.

This, he said, rendered their case mute as the relief they seek cannot be granted by the court, as it will amount to the court giving them ‘carte blanche’ permission to erect shacks on land that does not belong to them.

He said the applicants have failed to establish the relief they are seeking before court, and called the court to dismiss their application with legal costs against the two men.

Meanwhile, prominent Windhoek-based human rights defence lawyer Norman Tjombe, who represented Junias and Nhinda, asked the court to consider the application of his clients.

In his testimony before court on Wednesday, Junias said he had been staying at the said plot since April 2012 when he and his brother Nhinda moved in with another family who already occupied the plot.

He said the previous occupant, Erastus Sheya, erected a structure on the land, but as it became dilapidated he decided to build a bigger home around the existing small structure.

This, he said, began in November/December 2013 when he and some helpers put up the steel corners of the dwelling until he went to the North for the festive season.

On his return from the North in January 2014, Junias said, he continued with the completion of the dwelling by adding the sides and the roof.

Junias strongly denied allegations by the City Council that the structure was abandoned and unoccupied as the council claims, saying that his neighbours can attest to the fact that he resided there.

Advocate Phatela is representing the City Council in the matter, acting on the instructions of Windhoek-based defence lawyer Patrick Kauta.