Wednesday, 14 July 2021

CHURCH DESTROYS RESIDENTS VEGETABLES

Members of the Reformed Church recently hired a grader to destroy vegetable gardens belonging to local residents who have been using the land over the past two decades to grow vegetables for sale. The land has been sold to the church.

The church gave the urban farmers a few days’ notice and did not seek or obtain a court order, which would have been required if a structure rather than a crop was being uprooted. Congregants led by Mr Matthew Mutimhodyo said they bought the land from Harare City Council.

Affected residents said they had been growing crops on the land for the past two decades, earning a living from selling the produce. They reported the church’s action to Warren Park Police. Some of the affected residents who spoke to The Herald said the church was being insensitive especially at a time when most people were trying to make ends meet in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mrs Alice Mopondamali, who is one of the senior citizens in the suburb, said it was unfortunate that the church was at the forefront of promoting the suffering of innocent people.

“We are very disappointed over what the church is doing. They came here and gave us  short notice to clear our vegetables.

In a few days, they came back with a front-end loader to clear our vegetables, which are our source of livelihood. We are trying to deal with the effects of Covid-19 and we don’t have money to buy meat. We are devastated,” said Mrs Mupondamali.

The same land is purported to be part of Rugare Housing Pay Scheme and is the subject of court proceedings after residents opposed its change of use and transfer to a housing scheme approached the High Court challenging the change in land use by the Harare City Council to facilitate housing development on the stand. The residents, through their lawyers Mapondera and Company Legal Practitioners, are seeking an interdict to stop the housing development. Residents are demanding the cancellation of the permit issued by the City of Harare to Rugare Housing Pay Scheme saying the process was done without following procedures.

“The plaintiffs’ claim is for an order nullifying the change of use of stands of Rugare Township, Harare, for having been unprocedurally and unlawfully approved,” reads part of the application. Zanu PF shadow Member for Parliament for Southerton constituency, under which Rugare falls, Cde Andrew Makahamadze, condemned the church’s action saying the ownership of the piece of land was in dispute, exposing the rot within the City of Harare.

“I strongly condemn the way the church handled the issue. I sought the views of various law experts and they all agreed that the church had taken the law into its hands,” said Cde Makakhamadze. Herald

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