'No demolitions without court order'

HARARE - High Court judge Owen Tagu has ordered the Harare City Council (HCC) not to demolish houses without a court order.

Tagu made the ruling in a matter in which Budiriro 4 residents, through their lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara, had dragged the local authority to court challenging the demolition of their homes.

“In my view, the Constitution of Zimbabwe is the supreme law of the land. Any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is ultra vires the Constitution. The provisions of Section 74 are clear and unambiguous.

“Before any person whatsoever can lawfully demolish the houses or homes of any person, that person has to first obtain a court order,” Tagu said.

He added, “Consequently, it follows logically that before the first respondent (City of Harare) can lawfully demolish the houses of the appellants, or any other illegal structures within its area of administration, it has to first approach a court and obtain a court order. Failure to do so renders the conduct of the first respondent unlawful and unconstitutional.

“In the result, it is ordered that, demolition of houses in Budiriro 4, in the absence of a court order be and is hereby declared unlawful.”

According to court papers, the applicants were Tawanda Mukungurutse, Patrick Chikohora and Cledwyn Mutete, while the City of Harare and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere were cited as respondents.

In his affidavit, Mukungurutse 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 HCC in Budiriro 4.

He said that he began paying his $22 monthly subscription, which was meant for the development of the stands, the acquisition of pipes for water and sewage and other related activities.

“I also paid funds for surveying fees, engineers and other professionals who were meant to partition the stand,” he said.

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

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

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

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

Comments (3)

A stupid ruling that will continue to promote the mushrooming of shanty settlements in all urban centers. Why cannot the same constitution be with a clause that outlaws unsanctioned urban and rural land invasions. These chaotic invasions will create a head ache to correct in future and will create a negative name for the gvt when restoration of order comes to being. Mark my words.

Sindooraaniket - 10 October 2016

How did the houses mushroom in the first place? its the govt that allocated those stands to theIr PARTY supporters. secondly, how do you wait for pple to finish building houses and then rush to destroy? why not prevent them from building those houses? why is the local authority always reactionary? they look at pple doing whatever they want and want to just come and destroy, hiring equipment and manpower that cost the ratepayer instead of being pro-active and prevent anything from "mushrooming"? whatver govy comes will have to follow the law. noone is above the constitution although some think they are.

Jonathan Musorobhangu - 10 October 2016

They first demolish the house then later on they say hcc should not do that.Do they compensate on that.Let us not be cruel please

Lewis waLewis - 10 October 2016

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