Special Veteran: Govt gives late minister’s wife N$3m house

The government is giving the widow of former housing minister John Pandeni a newly renovated house.

The Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs has justified the decision to take the house from the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and allocate it to the late minister’s wife, Julia, claiming she deserves it since she is “a veteran of the Namibian liberation struggle”.

The house, estimated at N$3 million, is located in Windhoek’s upmarket business and residential area opposite the National Library of Namibia at Eros.

It is situated on a plot of about 550 square metres.

It consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, a garage, kitchen, living room, storeroom, two verandas and two visitor’s areas.

The house sits on a larger state-owned plot spanning roughly 4 800 square metres.

Valuation estimates suggest that the market value of the plot, which includes six other houses, is between N$8,5 million and N$10 million.

The government’s gift to the widow has again highlighted ongoing concerns about the lack of transparency and clear criteria used to privatise state property.

Documents obtained by The Namibian show that the government started transferring the house to the former Swapo leader’s wife in 2022.

That is according to communication between executive director of defence and veterans affairs Wilhelmine Shivute and her counterpart at the Ministry of Works and Transport, Esther Kaapanda.

John Pandeni died on 14 March 2008 in a government vehicle accident while he was the minister of local and regional government.

He was 57.

Pandeni left behind his wife and four children, who, according to sources, lived in a rented home at the time.

The family allegedly also made use of government housing when Pandeni was the governor of the Khomas region.

Sanet Steenkamp


Kaapanda on 5 August 2022 wrote to the executive director of education, arts and culture, Sanet Steenkamp, informing her that the works ministry was removing the property from the education ministry’s care, because it was in poor condition.

The education ministry reportedly used the house to accommodate experts travelling to Windhoek to help with its archiving systems.

“The assignee [education ministry] should ensure that sufficient budgetary provision is made for renovation, alteration or refurbishment of the facility to suit their needs,” Kaapanda wrote.

She said the education ministry breached its responsibility to take care of the property.

“… and thus the Ministry of Works and Transport hereby with immediate effect revokes the assignment of the above-mentioned house,” Kaapanda said.

Steenkamp confirmed that the education ministery previously owned the property.

“I wish to confirm that yes Erf 75 on Eugene Marais in Windhoek did belong to our ministry. However, it has been deassigned by the ministry of works and then reassigned to the ministry of defence despite an objection and appeal from our ministry,” she said.


In communication dated 9 August 2023, Shivute told Kaapanda her ministry has renovated the property.

“Your office is hereby kept abreast that [address] was allocated to the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs. The house was rehabilitated and renovated to a habitable standard by the ministry.

“Kindly be further informed that the ministry is facing challenges in housing liberation struggle veterans,” she wrote.

“It is against the above background that your ministry is engaged and requested that the said property be alienated to the sitting tenant, Mrs Julia Pandeni, who is a veteran and in dire need of accomodation. Once the aforementioned property is alienated, our ministry will purchase the house for the member,” Shivute wrote.

GIFTED … A City of Windhoek Enlighten System showing the entire Erf 75 with all buildings on it.


The market value of the house is unclear.

Experts have estimated the property’s value at no less than N$3 million.

It is also unclear how the house earmarked for the widow is separated from the rest of the dwellings on the larger plot.

Records at the deeds office are vague and it appears the Windhoek municipality lists the property as one.

The ministries of works and veterans’ affairs are yet to explain who lives in the other houses on the property.

Records from Property Valuations Namibia indicate that the municipal value of the land is N$3, 6 million, and infrastructure improvements are valued at N$4 million, bringing the total municipal value to N$7,6 million.

“Please note that municipal value is not market value . . . In our opinion, the market value may range between N$8,5 million and N$10 million,” Property Valuations Namibia says.

The late John Pandeni


The defence ministry is adamant about its decision.

“Mrs Julia Pandeni is registered as a veteran of the Namibian liberation struggle and was identified as an eligible beneficiary to the veteran housing programme in her own right.

“The option to renovate an unoccupied dilapidated government house for her was a cost-saving measure against purchasing or constructing a new house,” ministry spokesperson Petrus Shilumbu says.

“The decision was made after thorough assessment was done on the living conditions of the veteran, after which a recommendation was made due to her eligibility for the programme,” he says.

Shilumbu says the house was renovated last year, and Ms Pandeni will be responsible for utilities, such as water and electricity.

“The Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs is mandated to address the socio-economic plight of veterans … The veteran concerned does not own a house, nor hold a title deed in Namibia, which is the primary requirement of the housing programme.

“Her relationship with the late minister is therefore inconsequential in this matter,” he says.

Julia Pandeni


Pandeni was a political prisoner on Robben Island from 1978 to 1985 together with the likes of Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.

They were released in the mid-1980s, after which Pandeni became a trade union leader.

He served as governor of the Khomas region from 1992 to 2004.

He was appointed minister of regional and local government, housing and rural development in 2005.

His wife served as a secretary under then deputy prime minister Libertina Amadhila.

Ms Pandeni did not respond to questions sent to her two weeks ago.

“We have been staying in this house for a long time,” she has said.

Her son, Iita Pandeni, asked The Namibian to send him questions, but he did not respond.

Government houses are often sold for far below market or municipal value to government officials and their relatives or friends.

The Namibian reported in 2019 that several senior government officials benefited from a scheme in which N$10 million in state funds were used to build lavish houses in upmarket suburbs.

These houses were soon after sold at an average price of N$250 000 per house to a clique of five government employees.

The criteria for giving public servants property has not been made clear and the process remains opaque.

This scheme allowed a select group of government officials to obtain houses for N$300 000 as opposed to N$2 million at market value.

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