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      City delays Islamic school for 'security reasons'

      by Sakeus Iikela

      .

      THE land application for a company associated with the Islamic religion to build a school has been continuously delayed by the Windhoek municipality.

      Councillors say the delay is due to “security reasons”.

      The application in question was submitted by an entity called the Namibia Islamic Association before 2014.

      Documents show the association wanted to be granted approval to rezone erf R/2034 in Hippokrates Street, Windhoek west, which is zoned for residential use, to institutional use so that a school can be built on the erf.

      The application was initially declined in 2015 and 2016, because the plot on which the association wanted to construct the school had no access road to it, and because temporary access obtained through Moses Garoëb Street “serves as an alternative when the Gammams River is in flood” and is illegal.

      “We told them they cannot build a school in an area where there will be constant or daily frequent traffic and where there is no bridge, because the land is separated from the road by the river,” Pierre van Rensburg, acting chief executive officer of the Windhoek municipality, last week said during a council meeting.

      The association appealed against the council's decision and offered alternative solutions, but councillors in 2020 found another reason to delay the application.

      They wanted the association to be vetted by the City Police for “intelligence and security purposes in consultation with the relevant government stakeholders/security cluster”.

      Van Rensburg said the municipality does not normally vet entities or individuals which apply for land.

      However, this appeared to be a special case to councillors, Van Rensburg said, after they saw the word 'Islamic'.

      “Their concern was that the entity could be training people there and do something behind the scenes. In appearance, it would look like a school, but they could be doing something sinister behind the scenes. The vetting was therefore requested and done by the City Police in conjunction with another security cluster,” Van Rensburg said.

      Some new Windhoek councillors were also perplexed over the relevance of the security vetting.

      The results of the vetting process showed that the association was “a legitimate body and can be attended to just like any organisation, provided that all applicable laws and regulations are adhered to”.

      Documents showed the association has agreed to construct a bridge and access road as required in the exchange deal, which involves the municipality giving up two huge plots, measuring 4 595 square metres and 3 315 square metres respectively.

      This means the association would be awarded two additional plots one of which would be rezoned for institutional land use to allow the construction of the school.

      The company has estimated the bridge to cost about N$6,5 million – some N$3 million less than the initial N$9,8 million the municipality estimated.

      “That is what the company was prepared to pay, and they wanted the council to give up something because building the bridge would open up other land, and other people would benefit from the money they put into that bridge,” Van Rensburg said.

      This proposal was, however, once again deferred at last week's council meeting by new councillors who claim they need more information to better understand the application.


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