OUTRAGE at sleazy cover-ups of politicians and the City of Windhoek Mayor’s municipal arrears exceeding N$500,000 has heightened, as the City this week evicted a family of 12 from their house to recover N$6,000 owed in municipal bills.
The ongoing repossession of houses from the poor has seen two widows lose their houses to the City of Windhoek over utility bills, after the community tried to block the auctioning of their homes.
This week, the Haufiku family in Soweto, Katutura, lost their house of 28 years to the municipality after it was auctioned for N$90,000 to recover N$6,000 they owed in municipal service fees. Matthew Haufiku, 58, a retrenchee and father of eight, unsuccessfully tried to block the sale of his house located on ERF 2768 on Farao Street in Soweto, Katutura.
Haufiku’s house was sold in a record 20 minutes while his wife and children watched their home of 28 years go to a Windhoek based property investor, was one of only four bidders.
Haufiku, accompanied by firebrand community activist Nicolaas Burtze, tried to block the sale by offering to pay N$3000 in cash to settle his N$6,000 debt, but only returned to find his home gone.
When Informanté arrived at the site of the auction, Haufiku’s wife Albertina, and four children were huddled in one corner of the lounge, waiting to know what would happen next. “We are not going to leave this house, we offered to pay the N$3,000 and they said its too little, where do they expect all these people to go?” protested Burtze, President of the United Community Organisation for Community Welfare and Social Affairs.
The organisation has so far blocked the sale of more than 10 houses in execution, mainly in the suburbs of Goreangab, Otjomuise and Soweto.
Haufiku worked as a packer at CIC for 10 years, before he was retrenched in a restructuring exercise in March 2007.
He lives with 12 family members in the house, which he bought through the Municipal Housing Scheme after independence in 1994. He has lived in the house since 1980. “We have lived here since 1980, and since I was retrenched in 2007, I have not been able to consistently pay my bills,” said a distraught Haufiku, while his only hope of reprieve, Burtze, sobbed behind closed doors in the three-roomed house. An altercation broke out between Burtze and the Messenger of Court when he arrived at the house with Haufiku, only to find that the Messenger had already sold the house to an unidentified bidder.
“We are taking this issue to the minister’s office, they will not occupy this house because they bought it through an unfair system,” Burtze said.
“This is very unfair, who is selling Shikongo’s house? The municipality is not there to serve the people but just to make money, this is a municipality, these are smokelaars (hustlers), just there to make money,” said an irate Adolf Gamatham, a resident whose power and electricity have been cut off.
The two widows who have lost their houses are Imgard Levy (38) whose house at ERF 3980 on Albert Konradie Street in Katutura was sold for N$30,000 in September 2007 to recover a debt of N$19,000.
Levy, who lives with three school-going minors, has resisted eviction, after attempts to block the sale of the house on promises of a monthly instalment were allegedly brushed aside by the City’s legal collections officers.
“She will not leave the house. We have told the buyer (a Mrs Basson) to go and collect her money from municipality because the sale was not fairly conducted,” said Burtze.
Another widow, Rosalia Garises (57) has lived in the house for three months after the city auctioned it for N$63,000 in April 2008. She owed N$24,600 in water and electricity bills, and offered to pay N$500 per month to settle the balance, to no avail.
The City has not treated indebted politicians, cabinet ministers and the mayor in the same way, leading to a probe by the Anti Corruption Commission.