Farai Kuvirimirwa Herald Reporter
At least 70 buildings, including houses and business premises at different levels of construction in Chitungwiza were yesterday razed down during a pre-dawn operation by council using front end loaders.
The operation to rid the town of illegal structures built on wetlands, left hundreds of people homeless.
The properties were demolished between 1 and 3am in St Mary’s, Units A, P, O and G.
A thatched bar and gazebo owned by one Mr Marufu and situated next to St Mary’s police station, a shopping complex under construction and tens of houses went down.
Chitungwiza council chamber secretary, Mrs Priscilla Vengesai, said the demolitions were targeted at illegal structures only.
“Those structures were built by people on undesignated areas. They do not have stand numbers and they allocated themselves land on those sites. They can come to our offices with their stand numbers for verification,” she said.
Upon being asked why the demolitions were conducted at night, Mrs Vengesai referred the questions to town clerk Mr George Makunde, whose mobile number was not available.
When The Herald visited Chitungwiza, scores of residents were still in shock over what had happened to the buildings.
In St Mary’s, a resident identified as Mr Maxwell Chayemura, said the bar and the gazebo were completed last year.
“We anticipated it was going to be opened anytime from now but it has been turned into rubble overnight. Graders made noise during the night and when we went outside to investigate, we were shocked to see them destroying the buildings,” he said.
At St Marys complex, one of the tenants and brother to the owner of the building who identified himself as Manyonganise, said he was shocked to see his refrigerators underneath the rubble before being informed council officials were responsible.
“I came expecting to start on a good note but I was surprised that my clients’ refrigerators had been damaged in the course of the demolition process.
“If it was proper, they would have come during the day and I am wondering why they did it at night and without giving us a notice.
“They should have told us in advance such that we remove our belongings than for them to be damaged. The building was constructed with full approval of the council and inspectors came to approve the building when it was at various stages,” he said.
In Unit A and next to Chibuku Stadium, one of the victims Mr Tawanda Musosa, said he was devastated with the demolition of his seven roomed house.
“I incurred several expenses exceeding $10 000 during the construction and purchase of the stand. Now I am not sure of where I will go from here since I invested all I worked for.
“I could not open the door in the middle of the night since I thought they were thieves. I was surprised with the rumbling noise before the wall was pushed to where I was sleeping,” he said before showing his bruised hand.
Another victim, Mr Admire Ruganhire, said his neighbours were spared and given notices to vacate the area.
“We are paying water bills to council every month and they should have said it before we parted with a lot of money,” he said.