CHITUNGWIZA magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta last Friday issued a provisional court order barring the local authority and Glory to Glory Housing Co-operative from proceeding with the planned demolition of houses deemed as unsafe and built at undesignated sites.
The order, which came following an interdict application filed by Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust (Chitrest) on behalf of the targeted residents, gave Chitungwiza Municipality until February 27 to respond, failure of which the court would issue a final order.
The residents approached the court under case number 106/14 seeking an interdict order against the planned demolitions after the local authority snubbed them.
Chitrest lawyer Marufu Mandevere of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who served the order to Chitungwiza Municipality on Saturday morning, confirmed the development yesterday.
“Indeed, we obtained an interim relief to the effect that the demolitions should be stopped,” Mandevere said. “The demolitions are illegal because they have not been authorised through a court order.”
He said such demolitions could only be carried out through a court order as provided for in Section 74 of the Constitution, so Chitungwiza Municipality should secure a court order to that effect.
The residents resorted to the court action after Chitungwiza municipality started demolitions in the town a fortnight ago during which two houses allegedly built on an illegally acquired piece of land were pulled down by the local municipality. Over 50 houses had been earmarked for the exercise.
Before taking the legal route, Chitrest members had engaged the town authorities seeking to stop the demolitions, but their pleas were ignored.
Residents then petitioned council against the demolitions on January 27 and gave them a seven–day ultimatum which they ignored, forcing Chitrest to resort to court action.
Initially, the government had planned to demolish 14 000 houses in Chitungwiza, but Local Government deputy minister Joel Biggie Matiza, who led a probe team into Chitungwiza’s illegal allocation of land to desperate home seekers, last week said the matter was now being handled by the local authority.
The municipality recently gave an order to residents who were allocated illegal residential stands to vacate the area.
Meanwhile, Chitungwiza Progressive Residents’ Association (CHIPRA) has accused Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo of being responsible for the mess in the town where he presided over the municipality through a commission led by Fungai Mbetsa.
“Government should stop forthwith this envisaged action. Chitungwiza Municipality should bear the brunt for allocating stands on illegal spaces by providing new stands serviced and build reasonable houses as espoused,” said CHIPRA in a recent statement.