Residents challenge demolitions

HARARE - Chitungwiza residents have filed a High Court application seeking to bar the municipality from demolishing their homes.

According to a letter dated January 13, 2016, the municipality wrote to the residents stating: “Further, take notice that within 48 hours from service of this notice upon you, you must depart from the land, remove all your property from the land, demolish any structures you may have erected on the land and remove all the rubble from the land.”

The letter further stated that if the residents failed to comply with the directive, council was going to demolish the houses.

The applicant in the matter is Nyatsime Beneficiaries Trust and 11 others.

According to an affidavit filed by Alice Matambo, the residents are seeking a halt to the demolitions.

“The respondent (Chitungwiza Municipality) has however, sought to repossess the land by any means necessary.

“On the 13th of January, the respondent served members of the first applicant (Nyatsime Beneficiaries Trust) with a notice to vacate the land, failure of which their homes would be destroyed summarily without a court order,” the court papers say.

Chitungwiza initially sought to evict the residents through an urgent chamber application, which was dismissed.

The residents, who are represented by Frank Hwenhira, said that they feared they will be left homeless if the municipality was to execute its threat.

They also argued that it was improper for the council to demolish their homes without a valid court order sanctioning the action.

“The applicants therefore seek that the impending evictions and demolitions be stopped and further that the said summary destruction of houses and eviction without a court order be declared unconstitutional,” reads part of the court papers.

However, the matter could not be heard yesterday after a High Court judge postponed it to Monday to allow the Chitungwiza Municipality to be properly served with the court application.

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