Demolitions: Residents in vigil against bulldozers

Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust is going to court over the demolition of homes that started last Friday morning. The families had allegedly built shelters without council approval.

Demolitions began without residents being offered new homes.
Demolitions began without residents being offered new homes.

The demolition crew hired by the local authority withdrew after angry residents threatened to set fire to the JCB excavator that was pulling down targeted houses.

Residents have since formed groups to raise the alarm if demolition work starts again.

CHITREST chair Marvellous Khumalo told The Zimbabwean that they had since approached the courts.

“We have instructed our lawyers to apply for an interdict order from the courts, since the demolitions are clearly unconstitutional and violate recommendations made an investigation committee set by minister for local government and public works Ignatius Chombo,” Khumalo said.

No-one was supposed to be evicted without being offered alternative accommodation by their local authority.

“I cannot afford sleep since the fate of my lifetime investment in the house hangs in the balance,” said a Zengeza 5 resident, whose tiled 12-roomed house faces demolition.

According to the CHITREST board member for health, Tinashe Kazuru, the local authority was supposed to give genuine reasons for the demolitions before embarking on the ‘barbaric’ exercise. This had to be followed by a court order directed at targeted families who had the right to appeal against the eviction order.

Part of the recommendations made by the Chombo-instituted investigations committee reads: “Relocate affected beneficiaries, remove all structures targeted for demolition and prosecute all perpetrators.”

Contrary to expectations, the forced evictions commenced without a court order, no alternative shelter was offered and Zanu (PF) land barons blamed for the scandal, Frederick Mabamba and Christopher Chigumba, continued to roam free.

The demolitions are expected to claim around 25,000 houses.

Town mayor Philip Mutoti said council was implementing the demolitions as recommended by the Chombo committee.

“Council has two farms with the capacity to provide alternative shelter for 15,000 families and victims of the evictions will benefit from some of the stands.”

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