Katutura residents demand action over debt collection

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Katutura residents are up in arms and demanding swift action from both the City of Windhoek (CoW) management, the Council and the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Erastus Uutoni, regarding their grievances over the use of Redforce Debt Management for debt collection.

They aired their frustration during a protest at the CoW premises and the Ministry yesterday, demanding responses to a petition they submitted to both institutions on 19 July 2023.

The group through its representative committee called Katutura Residents Committee, led by its Chairperson, Benestus Kandundu, expressed their dissatisfaction with the city’s approach to debt collection by contracting a third party to collect debt on behalf of the city, despite the residents objecting to the move during a meeting held on July 19.

Their primary concern is that the continued use of Redforce Debt Management may lead to the auctioning of their houses by, “potentially creating new land grabbers” in the city.

Kandundu expressed that the city should not behave like a profit-making institution but an institution that provides basic services to poor people.

“The City of Windhoek is not a profit-making organisation, and we demand a shift in their debt collection policies. The way the city is applying its policies is old-fashioned. The city cannot stick to the estimation of accounts. It’s been 30 years; what is the reason? It is because the city wants to make more money on top of the interest charges,” questioned Kandundu.

They are calling for the immediate termination of Redforce’s contract and the introduction of prepaid electricity and water meter systems to eliminate the need for a debt collector.

Adding to their list of demands, another group member Shaun Gariseb, said they have lost trust in the Council leadership, stating that the city prioritises monetary gain over residents’ well-being.

“We have lost trust in the leadership and Council because their sole focus is only on monetary gain without considering the circumstances of the residents. Even in recommendations by the residents for solutions that are favourable to the city and the residents, they still disregard the interest of both parties and only seem to focus on continually keeping residents in debt,” said Gariseb.

They then called on the line minister Uutoni to address potential conflicts of interest and demand answers from CoW’s prolonged delay in responding to their recommendations.

In an unexpected turn of events, when Uutoni emerged from his office to address the residents, city Mayor Joseph Uapingene accompanied him. However, the residents felt disrespected and demanded that the mayor leave before the minister could speak because Uapingene refused to meet them when they were at the CoW premises. They gave Uutoni a 72-hour deadline to respond to their demands. Uutoni promised to communicate their concerns to the mayor and municipal councils within the specified time.

Related Posts