via Umguza council resumes destruction of Reigate Compound | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu November 25, 2013
Barely two days after a High Court order barred the destruction of Reigate compound outside Bulawayo, the Umguza Rural District Council Friday resumed its demolition exercise.
Council workers on Friday evening moved into the complex and immediately set about destroying toilets and cutting electricity supplies. There are fears that water supplies could be cut anytime this week. Only on Wednesday last week the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) announced that it had won a High Court order barring the council from ‘demolishing 75 houses’ at the complex.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said the pattern of destruction suggested the council was deliberately targeting facilities which are not mentioned in the court order, such as the toilets.
The destruction seemed to have been calculated to resume at the close of business on Friday so that the residents would not have any immediate recourse, as the courts are closed throughout the weekend. However, on Monday the residents approached ZLHR again but by the end of the day it was not yet clear if the rural council was in defiance of the court order or not.
About 300 families stand to be rendered homeless if the compound is finally destroyed.
Earlier this year the council started evicting the compound residents to make way for planned new structures, only to backtrack due to the widespread public outcry and intense lobbying from the human rights community.
The destruction was to resume a fortnight ago forcing the residents to approach the courts leading to last week’s order. The council wants to turn the Reigate area into a residential suburb and has reportedly started selling some stands.
The residents argue that the council is violating their right to shelter because they have lived in the compound for close to 30 years, paying rentals to the local authority.