Demolitions: Council in contempt of court

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LAWYERS representing Reigate Compound residents whose houses were demolished last week by the Umguza Rural District Council (RDC) are set to file a contempt of court charge against the local authority after it destroyed toilets on Friday in defiance of a High Court order barring any further demolitions at the settlement.

RICHARD MUPONDE
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokhuthula Moyo on Wednesday issued an interdict barring any further demolitions at the compound without the authority of the court after residents had filed an application against the RDC which had already torn down seven houses at the compound.

The Umguza RDC falls under Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu’s constituency and his wife, Sikhanyisiwe, was chairperson of the RDC until she was elected into the National Assembly in the July 31 general elections.

However, two days after Justice Moyo issued the interdict, the RDC workers returned to the compound and demolished the toilets — a move the tenants’ lawyers, Kossam Ncube and Jonathan Tsvangirai of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights described as a contempt of court.

Ncube yesterday said:
“We are forced to approach the court because the RDC’s actions are in contempt of court. So we are going to file a contempt of court application against Umguza RDC.”

The demolitions at Reigate have raised a lot of dust, prompting Mpofu to angrily disown the settlement saying it is under the Bulawayo City Council.

However, Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo distanced his council from the demolitions and said Reigate remains under the Umguza RDC.
Documentary evidence also backs Moyo’s claims that Reigate falls under the Umguza RDC.

The compound’s tenants have receipts from the Umguza RDC acknowledging payment of rent by the tenants and they also have certificates of occupancy from the Umguza RDC dating back to 2011 which were produced in the High Court as part of evidence record.

Mpofu’s wife Sikhanyisiwe was at that time still the Umguza RDC chairperson.