BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is in the process of evicting over 50 illegal settlers at one of its farms in Umguza District.
The illegal settlers invaded Dunstal Farm in 2019 and since then they have been at loggerheads with the local authority.
According to the latest council minutes, the number of settlers had rapidly increased with more illegal occupants arriving at the informal settlement weekly. In a bid to push them out, the local authority took the matter to court, seeking their eviction but the move reportedly failed to pay dividends.
“Dunstal Council Farm was invaded in 2019 and the number of illegal setters was estimated to be 50 and was increasing every day. The eviction of these squatters was a matter in the courts and their removal was imminent,” read the report.
The report further indicated that last month, several families had their homes burnt and property destroyed by the city council during an eviction effort that took place at the border of Dunstal and Dunkirk farms in Umguza. The order to vacate was granted in July last year; however some settlers had defied the order and stayed.
The settlers reportedly encroached into a neighbouring farm, Durnkik, which raised confusion on farm demarcations following claims that those who were there were also staying illegally. The villagers in the area accused BCC of destroying their homes while the council insisted that only illegal settlers were removed from council property through a court order.
In a statement, Bulawayo corporate communications manager Nesisa Moyo yesterday said there were 159 legal plots, each measuring two hectares, which have been leased out at Dunstal Farm but some illegal occupants had allegedly settled at some of the plots.
* see full report on website
She said forced evictions applied to people who deliberately ignored the 2021 court order to vacate council premises.
“It was the sheriff of Zimbabwe accompanied by police, who were enforcing a court order in favour of the council. It was enforcement of a court order on illegal settlers. The illegal settlers were advised well in advance in July 2021, but vowed not to leave hence this court order,” she said.