Court stops house demolitions

HARARE - The High Court yesterday blocked the demolition of homes in a south western Harare neighbourhood.

High Court judge Francis Bere ruled that the houses in Budiriro 4 cannot be razed until the Harare City Council gets a court order in line with the new Constitution.

In their petition, filed by rights attorney Belinda Chinowawa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, three Budiriro residents Tawanda Mukungurutse, Patrick Chikohora and Cledwyn Mutete claimed that the demolitions policy has not been subject to legal review in line with the new charter.

The suit came after Harare authorities have demolished family homes of 100 residents in the suburb, leaving dozens of people homeless.

Citing the City of Harare and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere as respondents, the three residents had sought an order declaring that the City of Harare “be barred from demolishing the applicants’ homes in Budiriro 4 in the absence of the order of a competent court”.

Bere granted the order on Tuesday, after the matter was heard in his chambers.

In his affidavit, Mukungurutse had told the court that he joined Tembwe Housing Cooperative in 2010 and was advised by the chairman of the association that the group had acquired land from the Harare City Council in Budiriro 4.

He said that he began paying his $22 monthly subscription, which was meant for the development of stands, the acquisition of pipes for water and sewage, and other related activities. He also paid funds for surveying fees, engineers and other professionals who were meant to partition the stand.

Mukungurutse said he later built a three-roomed cottage, in which he lived with his wife and three children of school going age.

“From that time to date, I have peacefully resided at the stand, and was looking forward to the 1st respondent regularising my stay through the issuance of title deeds in due course as part of the amicable solution referred to by the director of Housing and Community Services,” he said.

“On August 5, 2015, some of my fellow members from Tembwe Housing Cooperative received notices from the 1st respondent directing them to vacate their stands or face demolition.”

Mukungurutse said pursuant to this notice, the city council came with bulldozers and razed over a 100 houses belonging to members of the cooperative on August 12.

He argued that the council’s actions were unconstitutional in the absence of a court order.

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