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‘Too cold to vote’

Written by on June 10, 2024

… Homeless people demand land ahead of elections

Mario Gowaseb (22), one of the homeless people sheltered at the Khomasdal Stadium, told The Namibian that for years they have been begging the government to hear their cries, but they keep falling on deaf ears.

“We do not see the need to vote when we live in freezing tents with holes and tiny blankets,” he says.

Gowaseb and his fellow residents at the stadium in Windhoek have declared their refusal to vote until the government responds to their plight.

They have decided to take a stand against their neglect and demand their rights before participating in the upcoming elections.

Gowaseb says many of the residents at the area have been voting and hoping for change, but instead, their situation has worsened.

For years, the stadium has served as a shelter for marginalised members of society who have no proper housing or support.

Now, as the country gears up for the elections, these individuals are refusing to cast their votes until their voices are heard and their needs addressed.

Gowaseb says although they are grateful for the blankets they receive once in a while from the government, they have been crying for a long-lasting solution.

“The tents they provided us years ago are extremely old and have holes in them. Although we still want blankets because we are cold, we also want shelter,” he says.

He further says shelter is something they have been crying for since 2019.

“Together we have decided that we will not vote for the government if there is no land given to us. No land, no votes and we will stick to that,” Gowaseb says.

“Enough with the blankets for now, let us look at something that would last long,” says another one of the stadium’s residents, Leonardo Helmutbock (29).

Helmutbock emphasises how abandoned they feel, especially as they do not even have toilets, which are a basic necessity.

“They say we should vote for change. We have been voting for a change but until now, we are still homeless, hungry and cold.

What about our children and our younger siblings who go to school on an empty stomach? We are honestly so tired,” he says.

Janien van Wyk (41) says life as a homeless person is very difficult, more so in winter.

Van Wyk pleads with any good Samaritans to give them warm winter clothes and food.

“We are asking for anyone out there to please help us out. We are really suffering, we go to bed with empty stomachs and freezing,” she says.

The Namibian observed the situation at the stadium, which is filled with dilapidated tents and mothers lying down with their children on small blankets.

Beyond the immediate struggle for shelter, the stadium’s residents are still hopeful that one day their pleas will be heard.

The post ‘Too cold to vote’ appeared first on The Namibian.

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