Jairos Jiri’s wife evicted


The Jairos Jiri Foundation management has evicted the 71-year-old widow of the late philanthropist from a house she was occupying at the centre in Nguboyenja in Bulawayo.
The foundation management obtained a High Court order to evict Jiri’s widow last week and sent the deputy sheriff to kick out Betty Jiri on Thursday.
The widow, who had been living on the premises built by her late husband for many years, says she is a pauper because managers of the Jairos Jiri estate abandoned her.
The late Jairos Jiri died in 1982 and was declared a national hero.
An eyewitness said Jiri’s widow and a handful of disabled children whom she was looking after were thrown out of the house together with their few belongings.
The order granted by the Bulawayo High Court reads in part: “The respondents and all those claiming title through them be and are hereby permanently interdicted from interfering with the operations of the applicant (Jairos Jiri Foundation) in any manner countrywide. The respondents be and are hereby interdicted from interfering with applicant’s peaceful possession of its properties and motor vehicles.”
Betty said yesterday the the foundation had secretly sought a court order to evict her.
She said the management had defied orders from President Robert Mugabe’s Office that she should not be removed from the premises.
“President Mugabe’s Office had intervened in the matter before it went to the High Court. We sought his intervention in the matter, but these people defied the orders,” a tearful Betty said.
“All I wanted was that these people be stopped from destroying the last hope that thousands of disabled people had in life through looting the estate and turning it into their personal property.”
Jiri’s widow said although she was old and frail, she would fight to stop the pillaging of her husband’s estate by a few greedy people at the expense of the disabled people.
She said she was a key player in the establishment of charity homes across the country and it pained her that she was being thrown out by her employees.
The Jiri family, through the Jairos Jiri Foundation, runs several homes throughout the country where handicapped people are sheltered, educated and employed.
Betty told NewsDay she had become a destitute while workers were enjoying the fruits of her husband’s sweat.
“I have invested a lot of energy in setting these homes up alongside my late husband. All I endeavored to do was to have disabled people taken off the streets and kept together at places where we could assist them in a number of ways,” she said.
“Now that my husband is late, the same people I employed and gave jobs are the ones that have now turned against me. They have turned me into a destitute and made life hell for me.”
“I plead with the President to do something and rescue me and the estate from further destruction.”
Jennifer Bhule, who has taken Betty into her home said she was touched by her plight.
“I had to take Betty into my house. She had become destitute. She received assistance in the form of food hampers from President Mugabe’s office but the problem now was that she had nowhere to stay. I hope that I have helped to alleviate her plight,” Bhule said.
“She had to be rushed to hospital at some point. The doctors said she is stressed and needed time to relax.”
One of the late Jiri’s sons, Last, said there were now too many “sharks” positioning themselves to loot the Jiri estate.
“There are so many sharks out there who are out to devour all that my father worked for. It is sad to see disabled people roaming the streets yet there is a home that was intended for them,” said Last.
He said the Jairos Jiri management had completely failed to run the institutions left by Jairos Jiri as evidenced by incidents of strikes by unpaid workers and dilapidated buildings at most of the centres around the country.
Despite the setback, Betty said she was determined to fight the matter to the grave.
“This is my sweat. I swear I will fight until I follow my husband. I did this to assist those that cannot assist themselves and I cannot let this go with people I employed. That will never happen. I will not sit back and watch them do as they please. I would rather die defending what I believe is good for the disabled people,” she declared.
Efforts to get a comment from the foundation’s management were fruitless late last night.