A POLYGAMOUS former Chiadzwa villager who was relocated to Arda Transau alongside his 14 wives in 2011 has invaded teachers’ cottages at the nearby Chirasika Primary School, protesting over government and Anjin diamond company’s failure to provide enough accommodation for his large family.
Philemon Johwani Kambeni, his 14 wives and over 60 children were among the 1 000 families displaced by the diamond mining company in 2011 to pave way for mining activities.
Other families were allocated four-roomed houses each, while Kambeni’s 14 wives were asked to share an eight-bedroomed house.
He, however, turned down the offer, demanding a separate bedroom for each of his wives.
Kambeni and his other wives brewed a shocker last week when they pitched up tents at teachers’ cottages and threatened to take over the properties to pressure government to address their plight.
Teachers at the school yesterday said they now lived in fear and appealed for police to intervene.
“We now fear for our lives because how can a person just come in and say he now owns the house I am living in? Though we understand their plight, it is not for us to intervene and as such they do not have the right to come and break into our houses,” said a teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, Kambeni’s tenth wife, Lucia, told NewsDay that they would not leave the school until government has given in to their demands.
“We came here on February 27 2011 from Chiadzwa and we were given one big house which we rejected. We stayed in the compound and responsible authorities kept giving us unfulfilled promises,” Lucia said.
“However, in August this year, the DA (district administrator) for Mutare (Cosmas Chiringa) came and gave eight of us houses, leaving six others, saying he would sort them out within two days,” she said.
“From there onwards, nothing was done and all follow-ups didn’t yield anything until we decided that we come to the teachers’ houses. What we now want is for the teachers to occupy the big house built for our family. We deserve to be treated well and we have erected tents outside teachers’ houses and we are going nowhere until the DA gives us houses.”
Kambeni’s 11th wife Catharine said her family had been made poorer by the relocation, adding that they were far much better off in Chiadzwa than the “scavenging” life they were now subjected to.
Arda Transau Development Trust chairman Cephas Gwayagwaya urged government to urgently intervene and resolve the impasse.
“This man (Kambeni) was so rich during his stay in Marange, but now, he has been reduced to a vagrant, going around sleeping anywhere,” Gwayagwaya said.
“They have occupied seven houses and there are a lot of mosquitoes in the area.
“It’s a very bad living situation and I call upon the District Administrator’s Office to find a lasting solution and make the family moves on with their lives.”
Chiringa said he was not in office, while his assistant Simon Sigauke said he was in a meeting.