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14 000 houses face demolition

By Daniel Nemukuyu

At least 14 000 houses in various parts of Chitungwiza and Seke rural face demolition after Chitungwiza Municipality yesterday filed a High Court application seeking permission to demolish them and evict families that were unprocedurally allocated stands on areas declared illegal by a Government land audit.

14 000 houses face demolition
14 000 houses face demolition

The structures were at different levels of construction, with others being completed houses.

Council, at some point, tried to demolish the illegal structures without a court order and was stopped by a Chitungwiza magistrate.

This prompted the municipality to approach the High Court through their lawyer, Mr Rodgers Matsikidze of Matsikidze and Mucheche law firm.

Although the court application does not state the number of properties earmarked for demolition, Chitungwiza Town Clerk Mr George Makunde, said council was seeking the eviction of people from 14 000 stands and structures.

“About 14 000 stands were declared illegal in Chitungwiza and Seke rural and the court application covers all the stands in question,” said Mr Makunde.

In the court application, three housing cooperatives and some individual entrepreneurs who allocated stands to thousands of people were cited as respondents.

Former Chitungwiza councillor, Dr Fredrick Mabamba’s United We Stand cooperative, was listed together with Yemurai Disabled Co-operative and Chitungwiza Ruvimbo Housing Co-operative as respondents.

Marvellous Khumalo, Innocent Hamandishe and T Marufu were individuals cited for spearheading illegal construction on the undesignated lands.

Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo were cited in their official capacities.

The municipality wants the court to declare the allocation of the stands illegal and to order the eviction of the occupants and the demolition of all the structures in question.

Between 2012 and 2013 thousands of people were allocated stands by individual land developers and housing cooperatives.

The stands, according to council, were illegal and that they did not have proper stand numbers.

Council argues that it did not authorise occupation of the land and that the areas in question were not earmarked for residential purposes.

Most of the affected areas are wetlands while other stands were under electricity pylons.

Some stands were allocated on top of sewer lines, road buffers, water ways and on some open spaces.

In November last year, council notified the occupants to stop construction but they defied the directive.

“Despite such notices, the members of the respondents did not take heed of them.

“They simply failed, neglected and or refused to stop the construction,” read part of Mr Makunde’s affidavit.

Council argues that there were environment concerns arising from the illegal settlements and as the settlers are dumping waste anywhere.

Settlers, according to council, were drinking water from unprotected wells, posing a health hazard.

Mr Makunde, in his affidavit, invited the court to visit the areas in question for an inspection in loco.

The housing co-operatives and land developers are yet to respond to the High Court application. The Herald