Council defends demolitions, challenges housing co-operative judgment

CELEBRATIONS by Harare South Housing Apex Co-operative Society members over a recent court ruling, which granted them leave to stay at Eyestone Farm and to be compensated for their demolished properties may be short, as the City of Harare is now seeking rescission of the judgment.

On January 17, 2018, there were wild celebrations at Eyestone Farm after Apex Co-operative Society obtained a default judgment against the City of Harare following the latter’s move to demolish co-operative members’ houses.

Harare City Council acting town clerk, Hosiah Chisango, recently filed a court application arguing the council had a bona fide defence on why it did not challenge the court case adding it was not in wilful default.

Chisango further said the move by council was above board since it had been carried out in terms of section 18(2) of the urban councils by-laws. He said the demolished structures were illegal and compensation could not be sought in the circumstances.

“The basis for the application is that the applicant was not in wilful default in the matter and it has a bona fide defence to merits of the respondent’s case.

“The default judgment was granted because the applicant filed its notice of opposition late and as a result it was barred in those proceedings allowing the respondent to obtain a default judgment. It was only upon becoming aware of the default judgement on January 29, 2018 that the applicant discovered it was barred in the proceedings,” Chisango said.

The acting town clerk said the interdict and the order for compensation obtained by Apex were legally untenable.

“The actions of the applicant in demolishing and removing the illegal structures were not in violation of a court order as alleged. The respondent had proceeded to erect new structures at Eyestone Farm in violation of the court order that it invoked,” he said.

Chisango said Apex Housing Co-operative Society does not have the subsisting title to the land in dispute, as the partnership agreement upon which it based its claim of occupation was duly cancelled as shown in the notice of occupation.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.

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