Ivan Zhakata Court Reporter
Residents of Arlington Estates near the Harare International Airport whose houses are being demolished for allegedly settling illegally have approached the High Court seeking to stop their eviction. The residents also argued that they settled on the land legally and their papers are in order.
In the urgent application filed yesterday, Harare City Council is cited as the first respondent, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere as second respondent, while Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora is cited as the third respondent.
Two residents of the area, Jean Pierre Dusabe (First Applicant) and John Peter Mutokambali (Second Applicant), filed the application through their lawyers Belinda Chinowawa and Fiona Illif of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
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They are seeking the court’s relief by stopping the City of Harare from demolishing their houses because they acquired the land lawfully.
“Applicant are members of Nyikavanhu Housing Co-operative and have constructed the houses in Subdivision E of Arlington Estate on land lawfully acquired through the co-operative,” said the lawyers in the application.
“On 21 January, 2016, the first respondent (City of Harare) demolished the applicants’ homes without notice or a court order and is now threatening to destroy the applicants’ household goods and forcibly evict them from the land.
“The applicants constitutionally guaranteed protections from arbitrary eviction, property rights and unlawful administrative conduct have been infringed as the demolitions have been conducted in the absence of a court order.
“The applicants and their families have now been left living in the rubble of their houses, without accommodation or adequate shelter, facing the elements in the middle of the rainy season, including a predicted cyclone. The applicants’ remaining possessions on site are under threat of being destroyed or removed by the first respondent.”
The lawyers added in the application: “In view of the health threats to the applicants and their families while living in the open, the threats of further destruction of property and eviction from the land by the first respondent, urgent relief from this Honourable Court is the only lawful remedy available to the applicants.”
The City of Harare, Minister Kasukuwere and Minister Mombeshora are yet to respond to the application.
In his founding affidavit, Dusabe said he purchased the land, Plot 1101 Arlington Estate, Hatfield from Nyikavanhu Housing Co-operative Society, a duly registered entity under the Co-operative Societies Act (Chapter 24:05)
He said the co-operative was first offered the land for housing development by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on January 15, 2006.
Dusabe said the offer was subsequently confirmed in 2010 and 2013 to develop the land and a Notice of Recognition dated November 23, 2010 and a Letter of Confirmation dated April 4, 2013 were issued.