Private hostel sues Govt over feesBy: ROMANUS KONJORE
A PRIVATE hostel at Otavi is suing the government after the Ministry of Works stopped paying it rent.
The ministry did not renew the rental agreement with Johanniter Hilfwerk Otavi after it expired, arguing that the hostel called Johanniter Heim Khoaeb already received a subsidy from the Ministry of Education for housing about 100 pupils of the Shalom Primary School and Khorab Combined School.
The hostel had been receiving a subsidy from the Education Ministry and rent from the Ministry of Works until the latter stopped paying rent last year.
The organisation argues that the Ministry of Works should have given it 180 days’ notice that it would not renew the agreement. It is now suing the government for the N$420 000 that the Ministry of Works withheld last year and the case will be in court today. Johanniter Hilfwerk Otavi filed a combined summons lawsuit against the government in the High Court in December 2012.
The two ministries seem not to have been aware of the double payments to Johanniter Hilfwerk.
Marlyn Tjijenda, a senior accountant in the ministry who was acting permanent secretary at the time the answering affidavit was filed, said the agreement between her ministry and Johanniter Hilfwerk was overtaken by the subsidy of the education ministry.
“In the circumstances the plaintiff cannot claim rental and receive a subsidy for the same property as that amounts to unjust enrichment which entitles the defendant to counter-claim,” Tjijenda said in her affidavit.
The education ministry was paying a daily subsidy of N$12 for each hostel dweller last year, which amounted to over N$120 000 per term.
The education ministry also paid the hostel’s electricity and water bills.
The initial agreement was entered into with the authorities of South West Africa before independence and the current government has been renewing the agreement every three years since then.
Part of the lease agreement states that the ministry should give at least 180 days’ notice before terminating the contract, something that Johanniter Hilfswerk claims did not happen.
However, Tjijenda maintains that the management of the hostel was informed by her ministry in March last year that the agreement would not be renewed, while they also received a letter from the education ministry in June that year informing them of the same issue, and supplements her claims with documents seen by The Namibian.
Marianne Sack, the treasurer of the private hostel, yesterday would not comment on the fate of the hostel dwellers and whether the hostel is still receiving a subsidy from the education ministry.