Chitungwiza residents yesterday blocked their town council from demolishing illegal structures after a hired bulldozer destroyed a house in the area.Scores of residents stood in front of the bulldozer and threatened to harm the driver if he dared go further.
The bulldozer reduced one house into a pile of rubble before residents made their stand. The owner of the house was away when his property was demolished.
More than 14 000 residential stands allocated in Chitungwiza and Ma- nyame Rural District Council are illegal and structures built on them should be demolished.
Of these, 8 260 stands are in Chitu- ngwiza and while 6 200 are in Seke communal lands under Manyame RDC. The land had been earmarked for other purposes such as clinics, churches, schools, cemeteries, recreational activities and roads. Some of the stands are under high voltage electricity pylons.
In an interview with The Herald, the supervisor of the demolitions, Mr Tendai Zvobgo, said he was directed by town planner Mr Conrad Muchesa to raze some structures on illegally allocated land.
“Mr Muchesa gave me an order to only destroy houses which are under construction in this area but when people saw us they thought we were going to destroy all the houses in the area”, he said.
Chitungwiza acting town clerk Ms Priccillar Vengesayi yesterday said the council intended to demolish more than 200 properties.
“We gave the residents an order stopping them from developing properties which are deemed to be illegal. When we started the exercise we notified the police but they declined to be part of our exercise.
“It was difficult for the council to continue with the demolitions because it was now life threatening to our workers who were carrying out the exercise,” she said.
She said residents had built the houses without council’s approval. Residents, however, said council did not give them prior warning and argued that they were paying rates.
“We were not notified by the council before the demolitions. Where should we go if all our houses are demolished? We pay rates and rentals to the same council which wants to demolish our houses today. Our houses are registered by the council,” said Mr Lonely Tembo.
Mr Maneku Khumalo, another resident, added: “We bought our houses from registered housing co-operatives but we are surprised that the council wants to demolish our houses in the rainy season. Council should first relocate us to other areas instead of ambushing us.”