SIX Epworth residents whose houses were demolished by the local authority, allegedly with the assistance of the police, have approached the Supreme Court seeking damages to the tune of $10 000 each.
Report by Feluna Nleya, Staff Reporter
The six, Peter Makani, Thomas Marumise, Goronga Nyagwete, Elliot Sithole, Clever Ngirazi and Rose Munavahave cited the Epworth Local Board, the Police Commissioner-General, the co-Ministers of Home Affairs, Local Government minister, and the Attorney-General as respondents.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who are representing the six, filed an application at the Supreme Court arguing that the demolition of the houses was cruel and inhuman.
Speaking at a Press conference in Harare yesterday, ZLHR senior manager public interest litigation Dzimbabwe Chimbga said the actions by the local board and the police violated the constitution.
“The Epworth Local Board and Police acted without lawful authority or regard to due process of the law,” Chimbga said. “Consequently, because of their arbitrary and reckless actions, families were rendered destitute and left at the mercy of the natural elements.”
Chimbga said the affected residents lost all their belongings in a manner that was reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina and also suffered the indignity of being rendered homeless.
“It is also noted that the actions of the Epworth Local Board and the police were in direct violation of the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development Based Evictions and Displacement. In particular the failure by the authorities to give adequate notice, consult with affected persons or explore fully all possible alternatives to the house destructions violated articles 37 and 38,” he said.
“As a direct result of the constitutionality reprehensible actions of the police and local board the six applicants have asked the Supreme Court to award them constitutional damages in the sum of $10 000.
“It is believed that the creation and awarding of constitutional damages is appropriate in this circumstance owing to the manner in which people’s homes were destroyed by state authorities.”
Recently, more than 200 Epworth families had their houses demolished by Sunway City (Pvt) Ltd, a private company, which had a court order that the houses had been built on private property meant for industrial development.