Verdict on shack demolition on 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 delivered on Wednesday.

High Court Judge Dave Smuts set this date last Thursday shortly after he had listened to oral submissions and arguments presented by lawyers representing the two parties.

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 over the demolition of their corrugated iron structure erected on a piece of land in the informal settlement in Goreangab on the western outskirts of Windhoek.

The duo is asking the court to order the City Council to restore their shack and allow the 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 City Council, argued that the applicants were not evicted from the land itself, but that the illegal structure which they erected was dismantled and removed.

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

He said the applicants had failed to establish the relief they were seeking before court, and argued for the dismissal of their application with costs.

Meanwhile, prominent Windhoek-based human rights’ defence lawyer Norman Tjombe 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 had already been occupying 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 northern Namibia for the festive season.

Upon his return in January 2014, Junias continued with the completion of the dwelling by adding the sides and the roof.

He strongly denied the City Council’s claims that the structure was abandoned and unoccupied, saying that his neighbours can attest to the fact that he resided there.

Phatela is representing the City Council on the instructions of Windhoek-based defence lawyer Patrick Kauta.