67 Ruwa families' homes demolished

HARARE - Sixty seven families at Banana Grove Farm on the fringes of Harare had roofs over their heads; they had food on their tables and a life.

Now, they have nothing, and are living as vagrants after their homes were allegedly razed down by Simon Makaza, a farmer.

The families, who include infants are currently living out in the cold at the height of the southern hemisphere winter, in rumbling plastic homes. They have been forced to leave behind their houses, which predate the land reform programme, in ruins.

The demolitions — which took place last week at Banana Groove Farm just outside Ruwa — have forced the affected families to build makeshift plastic homes along a dusty road.

Exposed to the elements, the 67 families yesterday appealed to the government  to intervene.

Furious ex-farm labourers told the Daily News yesterday that the evictions had left them with no food and potable water.

A dejected Clement Martin, 34, said they were not given time to pack their possessions when men wielding hammers descended on their homes.

“We lost our homes and almost everything that was inside,” Martin said. “We managed to retrieve a few belongings and that is what we brought here. Children have dropped out of school. We used to provide labour for him but we have not been paid our wages.”

On Saturday last week, a truckload of men descended on the farm, armed with bolt cutters and other demolition equipment, and razed houses of persons such as 58-year-old Lingston Chikwete, who has his roots at the farm.

His relatives are buried there, and he says he has nowhere else to go.

“I have been here since the 80s and I do not have anywhere else to go,” Chikwete said. “If there are people with good hearts, please help us with tents and food. We are now drinking water from the river.

A mother and child outside a shack after their homes were razed down at Banana Groove Farm. Pic: Idah Mhetu

“Is this what independence means? Only the rich are comfortable and we have nothing.”

Women have taken their younger children to neighbouring farms while they endure the biting cold nights on the banks of a nearby stream.

Mariah Chinyanga, 26, said their living conditions were dire.

“Every morning our blankets are wet because of the dew,” Chinyanga said. “As you can see, we do not have roofs,” she added, staring at her earthly possessions.

Contacted for comment Makaza, the man at the centre of the demolitions said: “I am busy right now phone me after one hour.” Efforts to speak to him later were fruitless.

Jeremiah Bhamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said that they were waiting for papers from the lower court before they approach the High Court.

Comments (3)

Ehh Fungai, don't you think it was better to investigate and tell the readers why the "Homes" were demolished. Should we sympathise with these families or not. We cant, from your story, deduce if it's the families or Simon Makaza who is wrong. Your reporting is ehhh so-so.

Open Eye - 25 July 2014

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It's depressing to realize, from Open Eyes comment, that victim-blaming is now second nature to us. The reaction is 'They must have done something wrong'... what can 67 families possibly have done to deserve this fate? Asked for their pay?

Despondent - 26 July 2014

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