North West councillors have described Tawana Land Board’s demolition of squatter camps in Sedie ward last week as inhuman. Speaking during Tuesday’s full council meeting in Maun the Councilors expressed disappointment at the decision saying it shows just how inconsiderate government is. They argued that although squatting is unlawful, government must show the compassion it’s been preaching all this while.
It is alleged that unable to bear the decision, some of the squatters had to be hospitalised for shock, while one is said to have died after his house was demolished. Some people in the streets said that the squatters are being encouraged by different politicians during their campaigns who assure them that they will give them plots certificates when they vote for them. Other people end up squatting because they cannot tolerate the long waiting lists at land boards.Councillors said most of people who are squatting are destitute who are given food hampers by government, so the government should consider that before destroying their houses.
Cllr Kenson Kgaga of Sennonori ward said Tawana Land Board is the cruelest in the country.“I’ve been going around my ward telling the electorate how squatting is not good, I can’t encourage people to squat because I know it’s against the constitution of Botswana”, he said. Another councilLor, Jaison Kazombongo of Nokaneng said the government of Botswana doesn’t know the meaning of compassion they have been talking about for years as they failed to apply it on squatters who are among the less privileged in society.
He said although squatting is against the law it’s not a big offence like murder and theft for which people are discharged, pardoned and sometimes released from prison.
“There is a good example of people who killed Kalafatis they were released, I think the same thing should be done with squatters, the government should consider their reasons and give them the plots,” he said.However, Tawana Land Board chairman, Kutjavetira Mauano said they are kindhearted as they have allocated a number of plots to those who are less privileged considering the reports from the social and community development, (S&CD).
Mauano said they are concerned by squatters in Maun, adding that they are exercising and implementing government policy and a court order. He appealed to community leaders not to encourage squatters but instead support Land Board’s efforts to stop squatters.“We have been informing the squatters that it is against the law to do so and we will continue that, they shouldn’t give weak reasons of long waiting lists, and that they are kicked out of their homes because of family feuds,” he said.