|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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Zimbabwe destruction: One man's story
In the last of our series on housing demolitions in Zimbabwe, a resident of Harare's Hatcliffe Extension township tells his story to our correspondent Justin Pearce.
It was because we didn't vote for the ruling party. They know we are town people. Once we go to the tribal trust lands [communal farming areas] the chiefs are told how to deal with us - to get us back to the party they wanted us to vote for.
They used police and District Development Fund Vehicles to take us to Caledonia Farm [transit camp].
My family were in Caledonia Farm for four weeks, I was there for three weeks. People were dying daily. They [the authorities] didn't want this to be known - so no ordinary people were allowed in.
The only relief, when they were allowed to work, came from the Catholic church and the United Nations. They helped us - gave us food and medicines, and asked what our problems were. Some people had no blankets and no food.
When the UN representative [Anna Tibaijuka] came to Zimbabwe the police were telling people to go to the kumushas [rural ancestral villages]. The government allocated tents to people but then reallocated them to the police. So it was in their interest to go kumusha.
My family had a lease for our stands, so we didn't go kumusha.
When the UN representative came they tried to hide us.
They started bringing us back to Hatcliffe on the third weekend. When we got back to Hatcliffe there was nothing. When they destroyed the houses, people from a neighbouring location came in and took away what was valuable.
The donors are giving us roofing material - but the government says it's them who are giving it to us. No foundations have been dug.
In two or three days time I might sleep under a roof again. That's something I'd forgotten about.
I have been in Hatcliffe Extension since 1992, 23 December. Before that I was living on [opposition leader] Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole's farm. He split his farm to share between the rest of us.
The government thought we would end up voting for Reverend Sithole. So they promised to build us decent accommodation [at Hatcliffe Extension]. They allocated us stands - but no buildings. Donors promised us basic two-room houses.
I am originally from Rusape [180km south-east of Harare], and came here to find work in 1971.
I have eight children, including two from my previous marriage who are now grown up. I live with my wife and our six children. I have two children in form four, one in form one, one in grade two and two in kindergarten. They are not going to school now [because of the removals].
My wife had a miscarriage at eight months. All of the things that have happened since 28 May are what caused her blood pressure to go very high.
Three or four times a day, the police were telling us to go to the kumushas. But not me. I am supposed to be at work - how could I have gone?
It was difficult to destroy our own property. Some people stood by.
I remember one old man had built a nice two-storey thing - he couldn't bear to destroy it. He fell down unconscious and woke up to find his building in rubble.
Eventually they had AK47s - a group of five had one AK.
Some went to Caledonia - those who weren't used to the threats went to the kumushas.
The other day they found me shaving. There were lorries there 30 of them - you are supposed to go kumusha. I said no, I am going to work.
Around half of the people went to the kumushas.. We at Hatcliffe are less than half the number that we were.
This "tsunami" thing affected us in the workplace and at home. Some people had home industries - once they destroy your house, how can you work? I was lucky - I was affected only in my home, not my workplace.
From Caledonia Farm we had to walk six kilometres to board a bus to work. The police didn't want the emergency taxis [informal public transport] to come there. I don't know why they were punishing us in that way. Maybe they didn't want people to know we were living there."
Do you have any questions for Justin Pearce about his reporting trip to Zimbabwe? Use the form to send your questions.