HIGH Court judge Justice Owen Tagu yesterday reserved judgment in an application filed by Budiriro residents challenging the demolition of their houses by the City of Harare without a court order last year.
Source: Budiriro demolitions: Judgment reserved – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 19, 2016
BY CHARLES LAITON
The residents had taken council to court, arguing the demolitions were in violation of the country’s Constitution.
Sometime last year, members of Tembwe Housing Co-operative approached the High Court for recourse after council pulled down their housing structures, which the latter claimed had been constructed on land reserved for schools and churches.
The court then ruled in the applicant’s favour and granted a provisional order barring the demolitions.
The housing co-operative members, through their lawyer Advocate Tonderai Bhatasara, then approached the court seeking confirmation of the provisional order.
In his submissions, Bhatasara argued the City of Harare could not be allowed to demolish his clients’ houses, years after letting them build structures on the disputed piece of land and more so without a court order.
“The first respondent (City of Harare) allowed the residents to be at the piece of land since 2010 without taking any decisive action. We have more than 100 families that have constructed their homes there, but to suddenly give them 48 hours to demolish, clear the rubble and vacate the land, without giving them alternative places to stay, would be in violation of the Constitution,” Bhatasara said, quoting several sections of the supreme
“Even if a finding is made by this honourable court that the applicants settled themselves there without authority, there is a lawful way of dealing with them, that is obtaining a court order seeking their eviction.”
In response, council lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri urged the court to dismiss the application, arguing the residents were “outlaws” and as such, could not approach the court seeking to regularise an illegality.
“The co-operative was warned time and again to cease their operations and were given notices in 2010, 2014 and last year, but they ignored,” he said.
“These outlaws come to court seeking protection of the law after deliberately subverting the same law. The Constitution does not provide a right to shelter, but from arbitrary eviction and the applicants cannot argue on the basis of the Constitution which has not been violated at all.”