High Court stops churches demolitions

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Tendai Kamhungira

DEPUTY CHIEF WRITER

kamhungirat@dailynews.co.zw

THE High Court has ordered Local Government minister July Moyo to stop demolitions of houses, churches and tuck shops in Domboshava following an application filed by residents in the area, the Daily News can report.

The applicants were Domboshava Residents Trust, Tineyi Munetsi and Tonderai Murape, while the respondents were Local Government minister July Moyo and Goromonzi Rural District Council.

“Whereupon, after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that: the second respondent (Goromonzi Rural District Council) be and is hereby barred and interdicted from demolishing any dwelling houses, hardware, tuck shops, churches and vending stalls or property of any other description belonging to or used by first applicant’s members in Ward 4, Murape, Goromonzi West, Domboshava, pursuant to a verbal notice of May 13, 2020 or without following due process of the law,” High Court judge Paul Siyabonga Musithu ruled.

In an affidavit, Munetsi said they approached the court after Local Government ministry workers started demolishing houses, tuckshops and vending stalls, among other structures, belonging to Domboshava residents.

“Sometime in late March 2020, 2nd respondent’s officials visited Domboshava community, in the area known as Ward 4, Murape, Goromonzi West, Domboshava and demolished some houses, two AFM churches, hardware shops, tuckshops and vending stalls which were described as illegal structures by the officials who were  carrying out that exercise. The demolitions were massive and lasted for a period of three days,” Munetsi said.

The residents, who are represented by Obey Shava and Denford Halimani, said they could not do anything about the demolitions as they were carried out during the lockdown period when movement was restricted.

“On May 13, 2020, the 2nd respondent sent its councillor, (Mr) Tapiwa Murima of Ward 4, Murape, Goromonzi West, also known as Domboshava village to announce to the residents that on the 18th of May 2020, it would send its officials to come and demolish our dwelling shelter and the vending stalls which it considered illegal. We made frantic efforts to get clarification from the district administrator, through a telephone call on May 14, 2020, but she could neither deny nor confirm the developments. She merely indicated that we ought to put our house in order,” he said.

Munetsi said there was no other form of communication which was later given besides the verbal warning. He said the demolitions were not justified, adding that there were no prior consultations with the residents on the intended action.

“I also contend that the demolition of citizens’ only source of legitimate livelihood — especially as government is struggling to provide social support to those in need of it due to resource constraints exacerbated by inability of people to work during the lockdown — does not meet the definition of essential service. It can wait,” Munetsi said.

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