Katutura ratepayers threaten to take City to court

Ready for a legal battle
Mariud Ngula
Henry Shimutwikeni & Co. law firm has issued a petition and ultimatum letter on behalf of Katutura ratepayers to the City of Windhoek, giving them until 24 May to heed their demands.
This comes after Katutura Residents Committee (KRC) spokesperson Shaun Gariseb said the group has vehemently rejected the City's offer to relieve only 50% of interest on non-pensioner accounts during a protest on 15 April.
Speaking to Namibian Sun, Gariseb said the City has failed to address their demands and, in turn, made “excuses that they have not received the petition.”
“The [Katutura] residents are now ready to take the City to court with those councillors that protect maladministration, financial mismanagement, abuse of power, Redforce and technocrats with the spirit of mammon,” Gariseb added.
In a document seen by Namibian Sun, addressed to the City last week, the law firm indicated that KRC said that in fulfilling their Section 30 responsibilities per the Local Authority Act, the City has over the years, in certain instances, used the practice of estimating water usage.
This, the document indicated, is contrary to measuring and reading ratepayers’ actual consumption, with the rate currently set at N$47.18 per kilolitre for homes, according to a notice in the Government Gazette dated 1 July 2022.
Devoid of fairness
“Our instructions are that the practice of water consumption estimation is not only devoid of fairness and equity, but it is not in line with Section 34 of the Constitution. This section envisions water metres to be used for determination of actual consumption,” the document read.
It further indicated that the City of Windhoek has, for the past few years, violated its Section 30 mandate under the Local Authority Act 23 of 1992. The mandate involves, among other responsibilities, supplying residents with water.
They further emphasised that the violation occurs through the levying of interest on outstanding amounts, contrary to Section 30's stipulation.
“Section 30 explicitly states that interest can be levied at a specified rate, not exceeding the rate prescribed in terms of Section 1 of the Prescribed Rate of Interest Act 55 of 1975, on unpaid debts related to charges, fees, or other moneys,” they said.
The firm indicated that when they were granted access to the accounts of ratepayers, they indicated interest charges above the lawful prescribed rate.
According to the document, the appointment of RedForce violated the Public Procurement Act 15 of 2015, read with the Local Authority Act 23 of 1992 and they “conduct their activities in violation of the latter.”
The law firm indicated that they were instructed to demand that the City of Windhoek cease with the estimation of water usage, correct the charging of interest and terminate the “unlawful agreement” they have with RedForce.
Should the City fail to heed the KRC's demands, the firm said they are instructed to approach the High Court without delay.
They are instructed to seek the following court orders: the decision and practice of the City of Windhoek in estimating water usage be declared null and void; for the City of Windhoek to adjust all interest charged on outstanding amounts in line with Section 30 of the Local Authority Act 23 of 1992; and for the City of Windhoek to set aside its agreement with RedForce. - [email protected]