Monday, 9 May 2016

THOUSANDS FACE EVICTION IN WATERFALLS

THOUSANDS of families, allocated stands at the remainder of Retreat Farm in Waterfalls, Harare, face an uncertain future following an application by the farm owner, Retreat Farm (Pvt) Ltd, to have them evicted from the property.

The farm was acquired by government under General Notice Number 474 of 2011, four years ago, for residential settlement after which it was allocated to various housing cooperatives, that have since constructed houses for scores of home seekers.

However, on April 8 this year, the farm filed summons under case HC3708/16 seeking the eviction of Harare South Co-operative Apex Board and Harare South Housing Union members from the property.

In its declaration, Retreat Farm said it was still the registered owner of the land measuring 624, 5039 hectares held under title deed 1723/76.

“The defendant, board and its members unbeknown to the plaintiff and without plaintiff’s authority/consent and without any legal basis illegally settled themselves on plaintiff’s property. Despite various demands the defendants refused/neglected to vacate the said property,” Retreat Farm said.

The same company recently filed another application challenging the constitutionality of the compulsory acquisition of the property and also filed different summons under case HC4232/16, seeking the eviction of the families settled on the property.

Ministries of Local Government and Lands were cited as defendants in the matter whereas President Robert Mugabe was also cited in his official capacity as third defendant.

In the plaintiff’s declaration prepared by a Harare law firm, Tamuka Moyo Attorneys, the company argues the acquisition of the said farm was unconstitutional.

“No notice of this acquisition was given to the plaintiff; indeed no notice at all was given to the plaintiff. No fair and/or adequate compensation was given to the plaintiff for the compulsory acquisition,” it argued.

The firm also argued the acquisition was effected in the absence of an order from a competent court of law.

The lawyers said Section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act that was used to acquire the land does not apply when the said land was to be used for residential development.

“The plaintiff is thus entitled to occupation and full ownership of its land and any occupation, settlement or other use of the plaintiff’s property by the defendants or any person claiming the right of occupation through them, is unlawful, unconstitutional, void and invalid,” the lawyers said.

In both matters, no appearances to defend notices have been filed yet. newsday

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