BULAWAYO - South Africa-based Church of Scientology is facing a crisis as their building in Bulawayo has been illegally invaded by sex workers, drunkards and street kids who are refusing to vacate the premises despite city council efforts to evict them.
In an interview with the Daily News, the church administrator, who identified himself as Chipere, confirmed the presence of illegal occupants who are resisting eviction.
“It is true that there are people living in our building and most of them are drunkards and street kids. We closed the flat after water supplies were cut,” Chipere said.
“The church never used the building but to our surprise people broke in and started using the premises without our permission. We reported the matter to the police and city council who have previously tried to evict people living there but they still come back, break in and continue living there.”
He said the illegal occupants have been living in their building for more than seven years now.
“The police are aware of this issue because there are cases of violence that are reported almost every day from the building. People, who live there abuse alcohol, use the rooms for sexual pleasures, they have destroyed the windows, doors and the place is very untidy now. I really don’t know how the situation can be dealt with,” he said.
Chipere said some of the people who live at Marvel Court along Joshua Nkomo Street are normal families and there was a time when they threatened him saying they have political support to forestall eviction.
“They threatened me, saying they are politically connected and since they have nowhere to stay they have no option but to occupy the building. The building will soon be renovated because we are still working on getting permission from border authorities to bring in material and renovate the building. It is still our building and we don’t want to use force on the people,” Chipere said.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Mandlenkosi Moyo told the Daily News that he had not received any reports about the issue but police will look into the case and make sure that everything is resolved.
“I’m not aware of the issue myself but it is our duty to protect the lives of the people. Therefore, as police we will be there to escort whoever will come and report, to make sure no one is hurt during the eviction process,” Moyo said.
A source close to the city council revealed that they attempted evicting people living there but they kept coming back.
“At first we evicted them with the help of the police but they returned. The second time we gave them an ultimatum that they leave the premises in a certain period of time but up to date they are still there. We are not sure how to handle this case anymore,” he said.