THE High Court has ordered more than 1 000 families settled around the Aspindale area in Harare to stop housing developments and vacate the site owned by a land developer, Marimba Industrial Properties.
BY CHARLES LAITON
High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe granted the order on July 24 after Marimba Industrial Properties claimed ownership of the land, which according to a Government Gazette dated October 22, 2010, belongs to the State.
Several housing co-operatives had sold pieces of land to their members at the site.
The court ordered the respondents, cited as Tinashe Maduza, Cossum Munemo, Gardner Machona, Vineyard Housing Co-operative and Nodville Housing Co-operative, to stop construction on the land and remove all their equipment from the site.
Although the order by Justice Hungwe is an interim relief pending finalisation of an application for eviction that was filed by Marimba Industrial Properties, the relief order has the same effect as the final relief sought.
“The respondents (residents) and all those persons claiming occupation through them shall forthwith cease all construction work at the applicant (Marimba Industrial Properties)’s properties . . . and shall remove their equipment and construction materials from the said properties, within 48 hours of date of service of this provisional order,” Justice Hungwe said.
“The respondents shall not enter the applicant’s premises or interfere with the applicant’s properties in any manner.”
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During the hearing of the matter, Marimba Industrial Properties’ lawyer Hazvinei Mahachi labelled the co-operative leaders as “criminals” who were defrauding unsuspecting desperate home seekers using bogus co-operatives.
The respondents, who were represented by Donald Sibanda, had argued that Marimba Industrial Properties was not the rightful owner of the land since it belonged to the State.
Sibanda argued that since the land in question had been gazetted, President Robert Mugabe or Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora ought to have been cited as parties to the land dispute since the government had not revoked its acquisition according to law.
“I must assert in clear language and for good measure that the President has not revoked his order of acquiring these properties from applicant as contemplated by Section 10A of the Land Acquisition Act,” he argued.
“I, therefore, humbly aver that the applicant has committed a material non-joinder since the President or the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement has not been cited as a party to these proceedings.”