Laura Garises, a twenty-two-year-old, never had access to running water and grid electricity while growing up in her grandmother's house.

 Unfortunately, her hopes of seeing these amenities in their household were shattered when the City of Windhoek introduced debt cancellation. The family, residing on ERF 3837 Max Eichab Street in Damara Location, inherited the debt from their grandparents, who were recipients of the free housing scheme during the apartheid regime. Garises, who lives with her fifty-year-old asthmatic mother, is burdened with a municipal bill of over N$100,000.

 Despite attending meetings and contacting the municipality, their hopes were recently dashed when they were informed that they do not qualify for the program due to their grandmother passing away at the age of 55, not 60. With no access to water and relying on neighbors for basic needs, the family is struggling. Jackie Garises, who suffers from asthma, desperately requires an electrical machine prescribed by her doctor.

 The emotional mother is overwhelmed by the idea of not having essential services for such a prolonged period. Surviving on a disability grant, she needs about 16 inhalers per month, while the public hospital only provides one. 

The family is pleading with the municipality to reconsider their case. Last year, the City of Windhoek announced a debt write-off of 100% of the capital and interest owed by pensioners. However, to benefit from the program, pensioners had to register with the municipality and agree to have prepaid water and electricity meters installed in their homes.

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Selima Henock