Under fire Okahandja Constituency Councillor, Steve ‘Biko’ Booys, has been accused of hiring thugs to terrorise residents who have been demanding his removal from office, the Windhoek Observer has been told.
According to Basie Tjikune, leader of a pressure group that has been calling for Booys’ removal because of alleged empty promises to residents over the last eight years, a group of thugs hired by the councillor have threatened to harm members of the public who visit the constituency office.
Things came to a head on Monday when three community members allegedly were chased from the constituency office by a knife-wielding official.
A criminal case was later opened with the Okahandja police under case number OKH CR 113/01/2019 and the woman accused of the offense appeared in court on Wednesday where she was granted bail of N$500.
Booys reportedly testified in court on Wednesday that the accused is employed as a receptionist in his office.
He told the Windhoek Observer that he cannot comment on the incident as he was not in office when it allegedly happened.
“I was not in office, so I don’t want to make assumptions,” Booys said when asked whether the lady had threatened residents with a knife.
A group of Okahandja residents blame Councillor Booys for their unending poverty and lack of development. They claim that since taking over that office eight years ago, Booys has failed to come up with any capital projects for FIVE Rand, Verderstal, Oshetu 1-3 and Nau-Aib locations.
Residents also accuse Booys of being at the centre of divisions that have rocked the Okahandja Town Council.
A meeting held on Saturday 18 January resolved that a petition to President Hage Geingob to have Booys removed from office should remain in place and that the office of the president be afforded another week to deal with the matter owing to the fact that the head of state was out of the country at the time.
Residents had written to Geingob on 07 December 2018 and 11 January 2019 calling for his intervention in the growing unrest in Okahandja and for the removal from office of Booys.
Booys said from a group of 30 people who came to his office this week demanding his resignation, 20 came back asking for his forgiveness.
“They told me that they were misinformed. They were told they were coming to my office so their water bills can be written off and that food will be given to them,” he said.
Booys also denied allegations that he had not implemented any capital projects since he came to office eight years ago.
“I have done so much, but there is a small group of people who are trying to make me look bad. Those having issues with me have never come to my office saying they want this or that. Why send such things to the president, while I am even not aware of these issues?,” he complained.
Booys further denied allegations that he had hired thugs to threaten residents. “Sometimes it is only fair for people to be honest. Such things can destroy a person’s reputation,” he said.
Chaos in Okahandja and protests against Booys are nothing new though.
In October 2015, the same pressure group held a peaceful demonstration in the town asking for the councillor’s removal.
The residents said then that they cannot endure another five years of “empty promises and lies” from Booys, who was set to run for his second term during the following month’s regional council elections.
“He must either bring changes, like he promised, or go. When he got his first term he promised us development, such as community toilets and more water-points, but this never materialised,” said the group’s spokesperson at the time, Sarafina Edward.
Edward also alleged that Booys is never available to address the concerns of local residents. “He does not attend to our concerns and he does not even organise community meetings to listen to the concerns of the people. He is never in the office, so it is also very difficult to get hold of him,” she said.
The Windhoek Observer also reported late last year that chaos had erupted at the Okahandja Municipality when the Deputy Mayor, Sofia Upithe, physically assaulted UDF councillor, Fredrick Shimanda during a meeting.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, Shimanda alleged that he was physically attacked with a 500ml water bottle after he objected to the deputy mayor’s penchant for travelling on council business.
According to the councillor, Upithe does not attend council meetings yet she always wants to be included when council members are invited to travel outside the town. He claimed that she does this in order to benefit from S&T allowances.