Property mogul and northern businessman Erastus ‘Chicco’ Shapumba has attempted to exonerate himself in a dodgy deal that left the small town of Opuwo without a stadium.
The council sold the government-owned Newman Katuta Stadium located in the then central business district for around N$1.3 million.
This was done without the government’s [youth and sports ministry] knowledge or blessing. The ministry owned the property.
It remains unclear how this deal was allowed to sail through, in wanton disregard to the State Finance Act, among other legislation, regulating the sale of State assets.
But according to Shapumba, at all material times, he acted in good faith during and after negotiations with the Opuwo Town Council. A council resolution was also passed in 2013, to sell the stadium to the property magnate.
Following a New Era report last month, Shapumba, through his company, Chicco Group of Companies, has now come out guns blazing, claiming the article was intended to tarnish his immaculate reputation.
“It is unheard of that the registrar of deeds would register a transfer of ownership in a land [deal] on the basis of a deed of sale executed by or on behalf of a person who is not the owner thereof. Be that as it may, Dr Shapumba had no reason to doubt either that the council had no title to the land or that the transaction did not comply [with] the requisite procedures or requirements of the law,” read a statement, dated 8 May, published as an advertisement in The Namibian.
He also denies dribbling the council.
“To allege that Dr Shapumba dribbled the council is to insinuate that he is a deceptive or cunning character,” reads another part of the wordy statement.
Prior to the initial article’s publications, effort to solicit Shapumba’s side of the story were futile. His phone went unanswered while he did also not respond to text messages.
IUM conferred an honourary doctorate on Shapumba in 2016. At the event, Dr David Namwandi, the chairperson of IUM, said the private university was conferring the honourary degrees to promote good ethics, entrepreneurship, innovation and transparency among Namibian businesspeople.
Shapumba also claims that when he bought the stadium, it was not in use and was in a dilapidated state.
He said the transaction was duly and properly authorised, devoid of any irregularity and executed with complete due compliance of all contractual obligations.
In 2013, Shapumba, alongside the town’s management convinced council into selling the historic Newman Katuta Stadium.
In exchange, Shapumba would allegedly develop a shopping mall on the land where the stadium is situated.
The facility had four pavilions, two separate dressing rooms, a caretaker’s house and netball/volleyball court.
“During 2016, Dr Shapmumba identified the need for a one-stop business centre in the town of Opuwo, comprising of an established (franchise) grocery shop, banking facilities and other amenities. It was on this basis that Dr Shapumba engaged the council for the construction of an alternate stadium. It was actually a condition included in the land sale agreement, namely clause five, that the purchaser [Shapumba] had to relocate (not construct) movable sport infrastructure from the land to the old sports field in the town,” he adds.
Before Shapumba could commence with what was thought of as a mega development project, a gentleman’s agreement was struck between the then council and Shapumba: The businessman would first have to build a stadium of the same quality on land allocated and identified by council.
He however said a sales agreement was entered into between him and the council as opposed to a mere verbal agreement.
The project never took off as Shapumba would later sell the stadium to Gerrit Schoeman, a businessman based in Opuwo, for around N$5 million without adding any value.
The council only learned about the transaction between Shapumba and Schoeman, when the latter approached them for approval of his construction plans.
When the former council approached Shapumba to find out why he failed to honour his promise, they were met with pomposity.
Instead, he said, he never owned the stadium.
Immediately after the acquisition of the disputed land, Shapumba transferred it to his own company, Okahao Sunshine CC (OSP).
“After successful negotiations, Dr Shapumba agreed to relinquish [sell] his interest in OSP to Mr Schoeman,” the document further reads.
According to Shapumba, this was done after he was satisfied that Schoeman had the will and capacity to implement the development he had envisioned.
“Shapumba did not sell the land to Mr Schoeman as he never owned the land. In fact, after the land was transferred to OSP, it has never thereafter changed ownership. OSP remains the owner of the land and also the owner of the current development on the land,” he continues.
What is more, Shapumba says, he and Schoeman entered a separate agreement that compelled the latter to see through the establishment of a mall and relocation of the stadium.
He also argues that he honoured all contractual obligations. It was the town council, he charges, that failed to hold their end of their bargain.
“Due to the condition that the council had to clear and level the grounds where the new stadium would be erected, a letter was addressed to council in 2020, informing the council of Dr Shapumba’s readiness to commence the relocation of the movable infrastructure from the land and asking the council to clear and level the grounds and also point out the exact area where the infrastructure would be installed. Regrettably, no response came forth from the council, not even after a follow-up letter was written to the council,” he further said.
It continues: “Due to the fact that by the time of the follow-up letter, the contractor contracted by Dr Shapumba to relocate the infrastructure had already moved equipment, including a crane to Opuwo, Dr Shapumba went to Opuwo and held a meeting with the then CEO and Mr Schoeman. The meeting resulted in Dr Shapumba and OSP mutually agreeing to cancel the delegation agreement and OSP, and the responsibility to relocate the sports infrastructure was returned to OSP.
“This was because OSP undertook to also do the clearing and earthworks itself and we can confirm that OSP has delivered on that undertaking as a new sports field has been erected and is currently being used for sporting events.”
Meanwhile, the council is moving forward with plans to construct a new state-of-the-art sporting facility, according to acting CEO Karui Rikambura.
“We have a bill of quantity and drawings of what we want to do for our stadium. It is just a matter of financial resources that we don’t have,” Rikambura said in a recent interview with this paper.
Without providing figures, Rikambura said establishing a world class facility will cost them an arm and a leg.
“We want a stadium that will have all the sport codes. So the cost of that is really something that a small local authority such as Opuwo cannot afford,” he said.
As such, he called on the government, investors and other key stakeholders to come on board.
“We have engaged the sports minister, Agnes Tjongarero, we have engaged the Kunene Regional Council and other stakeholders. At the moment, we are using the platform that we are having so that events such as soccer do not die in the region,” he pleaded.