Granny Fights Demolitions

Harare, March 17, 2014 – A bitter granny from Marimbi Village whose home was demolished by the Manyame Rural District Council has taken the council head on and has initiated steps to get compensation.

Ben Sithole, an elderly woman who is in her 70s, is part of a group of villagers who were left in the open in the midst of heavy rains after the much criticised demolitions.

She has now teamed up with several other villagers to approach the High Court seeking redress.

Despite repeated warnings by human rights lawyers that the demolitions, which caused a national outcry, were inhuman and illegal, Manyame Rural District Council proceeded to deploy bulldozers to raze down homes, leaving villagers such as Sithole vulnerable.

Human rights lawyer Marufu Mandevere of Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners, last week filed an application at the High Court to declare the demolitions illegal.

The families want the High Court to order Manyame Rural District Council to pay compensation for the destruction of the houses “in any amount as agreeable by the parties, failure which to be quantified by a competent court”.

The Chitungwiza Residents Trust and other affected villagers who include Rosemary Manyere, Olivia Mbanyare and Unics Mutari are being represented by Mandevere, who is a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The application paints a sad state of affairs with villagers, some of them really old, left to endure heavy rains in the open after the demolitions.

The villagers argue that the demolitions violated the country’s Constitution. They argue that Section 74 of the Zimbabwe Constitution protects citizens from being evicted or having their houses demolished without a court order.

According to Mandevere, the situation is dire. The programme to demolish “illegal” houses in the middle of the rainy season caused a massive outcry after it affected dozens of families in areas such as Manyame, Chitungwiza, Ruwa, Reigate Compound in Umguza on the outskirts of Bulawayo and Makoni in Manicaland.

ZLHR has repeatedly demanded that government should own up to its responsibilities hence should provide detailed information on how it would honour its constitutional obligations before rolling out the demolitions. Source-The Legal Monitor.