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Marginalised illegal squatters living in squalid conditions

Marginalised illegal squatters living in squalid conditions

Marthina Mutanga
MEMBERS of the Ovahimba and Ovazemba in Soweto in the centre of Katutura in river bed next to leaking sewers pipes for the past five years can be labelled as marginalised because the City of Windhoek has turned a blind eye.
The 47-year-old Kanuka Ngombe who said that they are struggling to make a living from making and selling traditional clay pots but the hard economic times has also caught up with the small community living in the river bed.
“We are not even benefiting from the Harambee scheme because the government told us that we are registered as Khomas Region residents,” said Ngombe.
They use the branches of dead trees in and near the riverbed for fire wood. Ngome said they do not have enough blankets for the coming winter months.

Pictured: A community made up of members of the Ovahimba and Ovazemba tribes living in squalor in a dry riverbed in the centre of Katutura. Photos: Marthina Mutanga

About 250 people hailing from across Namibia are camping at the old Commando Hall and according to Ngombe the group staying in Katutura are not ready to return to the Kunene Region and were told to move the Commando hall like the rest of the homeless people.
The City of Windhoek has however not forced them to move even though they are squatting illegally. The municipal health department addressed a meeting with the people to request the people to attempt to live healthier and adhere to the health bylaws of the CoW.
Former members of the South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet who moved to Windhoek as part of their demand to be recognised as war veterans joined the group living in the riverbed. The former soldiers also said they are not willing to move back to Opuwo.
If the group were accorded war veteran status they would have benefitted from a once-off N$200 000 lump sum payments to start up a business, a further N$50 000 lump sum payment and N$2 000 monthly war veteran grant which would go a long way in the small river bed community.
Ngombe noted that they haven’t experienced any robberies or other crimes, but they do have trouble with snakes and mosquitoes. He said they need mosquito nets to prevent them from falling ill and expressed the hope that they will be helped by a Good Samaritan.

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