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Residents challenge Harare City Council demolitions

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2021 at 06:45hrs | Views
FIVE Harare residents have approached the High Court seeking an interdict to stop the city council from demolishing their "illegally built" houses in Greendale medium-density suburb.

In an urgent chamber application, the residents stated that they lawfully purchased the residential stands from council.

They first challenged the court ruling in an application for rescission, which was filed on December 3, 2020, under case number HC 7203/20.

The Greendale Residents and Ratepayers Association was cited as the second respondent in the matter.

The City of Harare obtained a High Court order under case HC 4639/20 which granted it permission to demolish the applicants' houses on the basis that they were illegal structures.

Through their lawyers Matsika Legal Practitioners, the applicants stated that City of Harare had written to them advising that it would proceed with the demolitions on April 3, 2021, despite the application for a recession against a court order which compelled it to demolish their houses.

"Despite having already launched a legal challenge ... applicants and their families face imminent destruction of their homes in less than 30 days due to first respondent's refusal to acknowledge the legal challenge and respect court processes," the residents said.

"Applicants are on the brink of collectively losing not only their hard-earned money used to purchase and build their properties, but also lose their homes, rendering them and their families homeless and destitute. The applicants will be displaced, will be forced out on the streets and this will certainly have negative and traumatic effects which cannot be repaired even by an award of damages."

According to court papers, the applicants received offer letters for residential stands in Athlone, Greendale, from the City of Harare between 2016 and 2018, after having fully paid for the stands.

However, in September last year, the applicants were advised to stop further developments on the stands pending some environmental regulations and they managed to secure the requisite permit from the Environmental Management Agency.

Under unclear circumstances, the residents claimed in the court papers, the council then served them with notices that they had occupied the land illegally.

This was after the Greendale Residents and Ratepayers Association had taken the council to court for failing to get necessary legal approvals to allow the stands to be built on.

In a public notice dated February 10, 2021, the council said residents, including the applicants, took advantage of the non-appearance of the department of control and housing inspectors due to the COVID-19 lockdown and constructed illegal structures on undesignated land.

The matter is yet to be heard.

Source - newsday

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