Demolitions unlawful, High Court rules

Justice Chigumba

Justice Chigumba

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
Government and local authorities have been barred from resorting to self-help and demolishing residents’ properties without obtaining a court order. Granting an urgent application by Arlington Estate residents, High Court judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba said even if the structures are illegal in terms of council regulations, due

process of the law must be followed.

Related………………

The judge blasted Harare City Council and the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere for taking the law into their own hands for demolishing the structures in violation of the people’s right to administrative justice as enshrined under Section 68 of the Constitution.

“Under no circumstances are the Government departments at liberty to demolish any structures in the absence of a court order authorising them to do so, whether the structures are illegal or an eyesore.

“The unlawful conduct of the respondents of demolishing the applicants’ houses without notice and without a court order was deplorable and not justifiable in a democratic society. “This is a democratic society in which such conduct, especially on the part of Government departments, whose operations are funded by taxpayers’ money, is not justifiable.

“For the avoidance of doubt, and in the spirit of guiding future conduct by these Government departments, the notice of intention to evict must be in writing, not given verbally at a meeting held under a tree.

“Notice must give those likely to be affected sufficient time within which to relocate. “If this is not complied with, then the eviction and demolition will be unconstitutional,” ruled Justice Chigumba. Harare lawyer Ms Belinda Chinowawa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights represented the Arlington Estate demolition victims in the court case.

Justice Chigumba said although demolitions had already been done, the affected residents could sue the negligent Government departments who left them building on land which was not meant for residential purposes. “Certain remedies may be available to the applicants flowing from the unconstitutionality of such conduct.

“Applicants may have remedies against the negligence of certain Government departments in failing to protect them from the actions of omissions of Nyikavanhu Housing Cooperative, when they knew that the cooperative was continuing to allocate and take cash from the members of the public, for stands on Arlington Estate when it no longer had the mandate to do so,” Justice Chigumba said.

The judge also advised the residents to sue Nyikavanhu Housing Cooperative for damages. Justice Chigumba slapped Harare City Council, Minister Kasukuwere (in official capacity) with costs on a higher scale. “As a mark of its displeasure at the unlawful conduct of the first and second respondents, a punitive order as to costs will be made against them to discourage such blatant disregard of the law in future.

“The first and second respondents be and are hereby barred from threatening or harassing the applicants. “The first and second respondents be and are hereby prohibited from further destruction of the applicants’ property without a court order. “The first and second respondents shall pay the costs of suit on a legal practitioner-client scale,” ruled Justice Chigumba.

Members of Nyikavanhu Housing Cooperative constructed their houses on Subdivision E of Arlington Estate. Council, without any notice or court order went on to raze down the members’ houses and evicted the occupants on January 21, 2016. The affected residents then filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court to stop the demolitions and eviction, and to bar any further demolitions and harassment.

However, the court judgment came out after the whole settlement had been razed down.

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  • Legal Expert

    It was said before that even though a structure may be illegal due process had to be followed. Unfortunately, wise advice fell on deaf ears. Now the politicians who were instrumental in this heinous act of removing shelter from mothers and children must answer. We do not condone illegal settlements. But when we deal with places some people call home we must be as humane and as empathetic as possible. Shelter is a constitutional right in most civilised societies and I believe it is in Zimbabwe so as a responsible government when such a far reaching decision is being made authorities must put in place safety nets in the form of decent alternative accommodation and the plight of women and children must be taken into account.

  • Grace Jones

    People need to be compensated. Kasukuwere must resign or be fired. he cost an already broke government money to pay for these demolitions plus compensation

  • Blackwave

    There are laws in this country but the government that made them will only comply with those laws as and when it suits them…in the meantime, the poor and defenceless, most of them women and children, bear the brunt of this mayhem. There are several instruments that are supposed to protect them but they are never looked at. Great judgement though…

  • Tot Decoy

    Yellow bone judge.

  • Blessing

    Kasukuwere must simply resign or be reliefed of his duties

  • chacha

    the judge is hot

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    I do not think it is exactly the same way that it has been given above. The long and short of Legal Expert’s opinion is that politicians are ignoring the law. He further brings about an interesting dimension in that he calls for safety nets to ameliorate and pacify those affected. My view has been that some politicians have failed to appreciate the poverty bedevilling the ordinary Zimbabweans mostly due to the free lives they live at the expense of the tax payer. The tax payer then gets an opportunity to find some form of shelter they are hammered really hard as their houses are demolished and dash away into a life of dependency as a lodger and they continue to pay taxes to sustain the lives of their persecutors. Life can be so unfair sometimes yet the law is so clear.

  • yowe

    It took all this time for the judge to find section 68 of the constitution??

  • mpengo

    It used to, especially when it came to local governance. They did it very well and very efficiently

    Post-inflationary, Gono-era behavior has brought forward a brood of corrupt, greedy criminals running and administering public office.

    Post-GNU era has also meant that, because of the political (for-us-OR-against-us) polarity, serpents have slithered in and do things under the cover of party loyalty.

    This breed of people is ignorant, ill-experienced, uneducated, unprofessional, believes in entitlement and have run down all forms of service delivery throughout Government (public or local).

    They have allowed the destruction of wet-lands, brought in nepotism and corruption in the handling of housing land, they flout tender & procurement procedures, they are law unto themselves,remain ignorant of processes and procedures, self-award huge(unjustified) salaries and always bring up politics to shield themselves from watchful eyes.

    They are the ruin of the party.

    These are their fruits which the common man will bear brunt of.

    • haiwawo

      We are elephants – the memory is long. Go further back and trace how the government would interfere in local government issues. Remember way back in 2000 when government, through the Minister of Local Government, fired elected urban councillors in Mutare, Chitungwiza, to name but some? The rot started way back and chaos has been allowed to rule with arbitrary appointments of corrupt party functionaries who were not accountable to the electorate but to their political masters. The unscrupulous took advantage of the situation. This is only an escalation of lawlessness that started way before GNU and inflation era politics.

  • Chigumbu

    The demolitions were unearthical and undemocratic

  • ruzvidzo

    hanzi zvese izvi started when Gushungo expressed displeasure at the site of these developments. His ** then went on to the jugular. Even Gushungo akati vanhu vadye** vana Kasukuwere will make sure it happens kkk

    • Grace Jones

      expressing unhappiness does not mean people must be displaced. The president has to give a deliberate and specific order that it be done otherwise mangwana anoramba. I am sure he is distancing himself right now.What happened to written orders?

  • njube

    Nhayi va Lawyer pavaka vaka payivene court order here kana kuti vakavaka vachiburwa mari nema

  • Nyamasvisva

    Thought as much after listening to that Matemadanda fellow speak against demolitions. . I was surprised to hear him speak so boldly about it – where was he? When did he realize that demolitions were affecting the newly borns? he needed to be outsted first ??? What would have gotten him a better following – convening a meeting for war vets whose agenda is to stop demolitions or call for a meeting to garner support and in there mention demolitions as bad!!! We may see factions trying to outdo each other using people issues . Concern for individuals should be there always during the good and the bad. I heard those in the People first establishment want to or have apologized for their wrongs while they were in governance . Some war vet , on joining people first, said they need to confess their brutalities first if the masses are to accept them!!! And Matonga dissed president’s reading of wrong speech – you see you need to be out of favour to see otherwise when you are in the mix you just gotta be just as blind as those that can’t see.

  • bodo_kwete

    you have to look at the merits of a each case. Kwete kungomuka uinehasha and pulling everything down because you “feel” its illegal, dofo.

  • kisi blessing

    OKAY THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE SO WATS THE WAY FORWARD PIPO WERE RELOCATED FINE BUT HAVASATI VAGARISIKA

  • Grace Jones

    unonyanya kuona iwe. kkkkk

  • Museyamwa

    Why giving this judgment now eeeh? Justice delayed is justice denied!

  • rukudzo

    Beautiful judge, beautiful judgement! ……..that is subjudice my brother.