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Bulawayo pushes for out of court settlement

by Staff reporter
02 Jul 2020 at 18:24hrs | Views
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is reportedly pushing for an out-of-court settlement with residents who dragged it to court demanding answers to the diarrhoea, typhoid and dysentery outbreak in the city.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) on Friday filed an urgent High Court chamber application against council demanding documentation from the local authority in preparation for a lawsuit linked to diarrhoea-related deaths and infections in the city.

The hearing is set for Friday.

The killer water-borne disease outbreak has claimed a dozen lives, and infected over a thousand people, particularly in Luveve highdensity suburb, the epicentre of the health crisis.

On Tuesday, the BPRA and its legal representatives met council and its lawyers over the issue, where the local authority reportedly pushed for an out-of-court settlement, a demand the association rejected.

"When our meeting started, the BCC tried to school us on how to engage council through its structures rather than to run to the courts. To cut the long story short, here are the main points: BCC wants an out-ofcourt process and are saying they can provide us with all the information by Thursday (today)," BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said.

Bulawayo chamber secretary Sikhangele Zhou yesterday refused to comment on the matter when contacted.

"I am sorry, I cannot comment about that, but once we have completed all court processes," Zhou said.

Government has deployed army doctors while the international humanitarian agency, Médecins Sans Frontières-Zimbabwe, has also stepped in, providing medicines and treatment to locals affected by the diarrhoea outbreak.

BPRA wants the BCC to provide water test results, a maintenance schedule for its sewage and water pipes, a map of the sewage and water pipes and tests of soil in selected areas and samples of the pipes "that we can send for testing", among other documentation, for its legal suit against the council.

"We hope to begin class action next week for all those who passed away, those who fell sick and those who were affected. It is very disturbing when looking at post-mortem results, the bacteria in question, which they say causes the sickness, can lead to lifelong permanent failures and some people will be needing dialysis for life (according to experts)," Ndlovu said.

"We feel the council reneged on its duty to care, duty to warn and duty to provide full information. We are not out to punish the council, but to hold BCC accountable to international standards. Our rights have been violated."

Council has announced that it needed US$1 482 000 to address the issue of water contamination in Luveve and surrounding suburbs. The council action plans involve the rehabilitation of its water and sewage infrastructure as it has reportedly outlived its lifespan.

Source - newsday