Home demolitions: Sue govt, residents told

Home demolitions: Sue govt, residents told.

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) director, Irene Petras says people who were affected by the unlawful demolition of their homes and had their properties destroyed should sue the state.

Petras’ remarks come days after the High Court barred government and Harare City Council from demolishing ordinary people’s houses even if the structures were illegally built.

The judgement came rather too late after the council had demolished many completed houses in Harare, leaving hundreds of families homeless.

Residents of Aspindale Park in Marimba area, High Glen, Kambuzuma, Glen Norah, Budiriro suburbs and along Airport Road, lost property worthy thousands of dollars when bull dozers razed down completed houses.

Addressing residents gathered at a Harare hotel Thursday to discuss way forward, Petras said the evictions were unjust.

“The government showed no respect for the law, no respect for the Constitution by putting people in the open, disturbing school going children and denying residents’ access to medical treatment in those areas,” she told the meeting which was organised by Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA).

She added, “The government did what is wrong by moving people from their properties and all other things associated with evictions; as such, residents should approach the courts for compensation.

“People will have spent a lot of money, time and effort putting up those structures and then for the government to break the law by destroying those houses is simply unjust.”

Petras added that whether a house was illegally built or not once it was someone’s home the law had to be followed in dealing with the illegality of that structure.

She said authorities had an obligation to inform people whose homes are targeted for demolition ahead and provide alternative shelter for them.

“On top of that they have to give time for people to prepare themselves to make sure that there is no damage to property and even to be able to debate and discuss and try and regularise the structures so that people don’t have to move from there,” she said.

Petras also added that the authorities must obtain a court order before they demolish the houses.