THE High Court has dismissed an application by Hwange Colliery Company management to evict more than 300 workers’ spouses who have been camped at the firm’s premises since last month demanding their husbands’ outstanding salaries.
BY CHARLES LAITON
High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni on Tuesday threw out the company’s urgent chamber application and ordered the coal mining company to pay the costs of the suit.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ (ZLHR) member Obey Shava, who represented the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which supported the women’s cause, yesterday confirmed the protesters had intensified their demonstrations and vowed to stay put until their demands are met.
“The matter was dismissed as not being urgent and removed from the roll. The judge also slapped Hwange with costs of suit and it is supposed to pay whatever costs the women incurred when they were dragged to court,” Shava said.
“The women said they are not going to turn back in their fight. They said they cannot go home and face their starving children lying on mats.”
HCC had early last month petitioned the High Court seeking an order to evict the spouses of the HCC employees from occupying the company’s premises in Hwange in Matabeleland North province and to bar them from staging protests demanding payment of their husbands’ wages and salaries.
More than 300 women and children of the firm’s employees besieged the company’s main administration offices demanding salaries that have not been paid for months.
Faced with the situation, HCC approached the police seeking its assistance in dispersing the protesters, but the law enforcement agents declined the request, indicating that the protesters had a constitutional right to do so.
The refusal by the police then forced HCC to approach the court on an urgent basis seeking an order to compel the police to evict the protesters arguing they were interfering with the company’s operations.
In the application, Hwange cited Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Officer-In-Charge, Hwange Police Station James Ngoma as respondents.
In his founding affidavit, Hwange company secretary Allen Masiya said: “The applicant (HCC) further seeks an order compelling or mandating the first and second respondents (Matanga and Ngoma) to remove the illegal demonstrators from the applicant’s premises.”
According to Masiya, on January 29, a group of between 200 and 300 demonstrators, comprising mostly women waving placards, stormed the company’s main offices, claiming to be wives and children of the company’s employees.
Masiya further said the firm’s operations at the administration building had been brought to a standstill as a result of the presence of the protesters.
The spouses were represented by Munyaradzi Gwisai of Gwisai and Partners, while ZLHR’s member, Shava, represented ZCTU, which supported the women’s cause and which was cited by HCC as sixth respondent.