By Ndapewoshali Shapwanale
Residents of the Omeya Golf and Residential Oasis this week said that they feel the developer, Andries Jacobus van der Walt, is operating a ponzi scheme, adding that their experience as homeowners at the estate doesn’t reflect what they were promised when they purchased their properties.
Insults and physical altercations were the first order of the evening on Monday when the Omeya homeowners met with the developer to discuss irregularities regarding an attempt to amend the articles of association they received as part of their sales agreements, a drastic increase in levies and a sudden charge for water.
Homeowners who did not want to be named said that they were promised that all water less than 30 cubic meters would be included in their levies, but they recently started receiving water bills.
They also complained that their levies for maintenance and upgrading the estate were increased from around N$4 000 to over N$6 000 despite them being promised that the levies would never be increased.
The residents said that they asked the developer if he had permission to sell or a license to recycle water.
The charging for water is also contrary to rule 188 of the Estate rules.
“It is unlawful to agree to increase the electricity surcharge without prior approval by the Electricity Control Board [ECB] or to sell water without approval by the relevant authority (Cabinet and Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry) the agreement was concluded (ultra vires) by the directors, resulting in increase in levies and rates and taxes and amount to be paid by the homeowners,” the lawyer representing the aggrieved homeowners Pieter De Beer told The Patriot.
Van der Walt in an annual general meeting allegedly promised an information session where he will make available the engineers report stating the calculation (justification) of the levy increase and the dissemination of the estate management agreement.
He is allegedly doing all of this to finance a N$90 million debt he has with Bank Windhoek.
“I am telling you now that this is a ponzi scheme, starting with the fact that he (Van der Walt) registered a section 21 company, but is receiving money as the property developer,” the homeowner said.
The home owners are accusing the developer of going behind their backs and changing terms within the sales agreement which were presented to them upon acquiring their individual properties.
The developer is also accused of ignoring the Homeowners association which was incorporated as a section 21 entity which is not for gain.
A home owner who did not want to be named said that van der Walt used the incorporation of the association as a non-profit, to syphon money from the homeowners into his own pockets as he is now starting to charge for services they are not supposed to be charged for and increase levies by exuberant prices.
While their sales contracts state that all homeowners become part of the association upon purchasing the property, the residents said that they have no say as an association member because the developer is trying to either ignore the body or overrule its decisions.
Dirk Schoeman earlier this year introduced himself as an attorney from South Africa, and that he will be representing van der Walt.
The property developer informed Pieter de Beer, legal practitioner for the Omeya Concerned Home Owners Group that Van der Walt intends to file an application to amend the Articles of Association of the Homeowner’s association, in which application they will have to cite each home owner as Respondent.
One of the home owners who is also part of the association applied to the High Court for an order to stop the developer from issuing water consumption below 30m³ per month and for them to stop collecting money for water consumption below 30m³ per month.
The homeowners also want the High Court to order the association to pay all money collected for water consumption since October 2018 into an interest-bearing trust account and not to transfer or pay any amount from such account to any third party, who is believed to be the developer.
They further want the association to be stopped from issuing invoices for water abstraction, storage and recycling.
The developer wanted to implement an Estates Management Agreement, but the homeowners also asked the High Court to stop the developer from implementing until the validity of the document had been finalised.
Monday’s meeting was aimed at having the members vote for directors to represent their interests.
The meeting was chaired by Schoeman, who despite working as a consultant for van der Walt, could not say whether he is in the country on a work permit.
“I am here on a multiple entry visa, yes,” he said when asked whether he holds a valid work permit.
The homeowners could only vote for one director as the others all resigned following threats of removal by the developer. The remaining director was allegedly not wanted by the developer as he was in favour of assisting the aggrieved homeowners. Although more than 200 voted in favour of this one director and 66 against, van der Walt said that he is exercising a majority vote that he has, to overrule a vote.
“What is the use then of us voting if he has that power to sway the vote his way. It makes no sense,” an irate homeowner said.
According to their website, Omeya has been proclaimed a town since 31 December 2011.
While the estate now consist of less than 400 residence, the developers promise that upon completion Omeya will consist of 384 residential plots, 14 townhouse developments, a retirement village with a frail care centre, a private school, business village and an 18-hole Peter Matkovich signature designed golf course.
Andries Jacobus van der Walt is a South African citizen with permanent residence status in Namibia and work address at Nampharm.
Van der Walt is the beneficiary and trustee of the van der Walt Investment Trust which is the 100% shareholder in Second Respondent.
He did not want to speak to the media and referred the media to his lawyer Schoeman.
Schoeman, when approached said that he can’t speak to the media at that moment and rather furnished a South African number which was not reachable.