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5 000 Ruwa settlers face eviction

5 000 Ruwa settlers face eviction

high-court-of-zimbabwe

The High Court has upheld a 2015 provisional court order evicting over 5 000 illegal settlers.

THE High Court has upheld a 2015 provisional court order evicting over 5 000 illegal settlers occupying private land earmarked for an up-market residential area in Ruwa, just outside Harare.
Justice Martin Makonese made the ruling last month in a matter in which Solomio Farms, which owns Hofmoor Estate in Ruwa, was seeking the High Court to uphold a provisional order granted in July 2015 by the same court evicting nearly 5 300 squatters who had illegally occupied the private farm.
The 2015 provisional order was passed by High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva.
However, in the long-running land dispute, the illegal settlers — who had formed various housing co-operatives — had disregarded the eviction order claiming that Solomio Farms had no locus standi to institute the proceedings.
The occupants were arguing that the land in question was acquired by the State for rural resettlement and not urban development.
“The respondents clearly ignored the fact that ex-facie, the applicants had a sub-division permit issued by the Department of Physical Planning Mashonaland East on 25th November 2002,” Justice Makonese said in his ruling.
“The issue of locus standi is clearly a red herring brought about by the respondents to obfuscate issues,” he added.
Solomio Farms has plans to develop Hofmoor Estate into a low density residential area under the supervision of ZB Bank and the Ruwa Town Council, which has a 10 percent stake in the project.
However, in July 2015, the land developers discovered that some people were erecting illegal structures within the boundary of the farm without its permission and consent.
The developers approached the High Court seeking an order to force the unlawful occupants to vacate the land and the order was granted by Justice Takuva on July 28, 2015.
Two eviction notices were served on the occupants on September 23 and September 28, 2015, but the settlers refused to comply with the court ruling, stalling the developer’s plans.
Solomio Farms was then forced to again approach the courts for the second time to seek the confirmation of the provisional order granted in 2015, which was granted by Justice Makonese last month.
“The provisional order granted on 28th July 2015, be and is hereby confirmed in terms of the rules of the courts, and not having sought condonation for the non-compliance with the rules, remained so barred,” Justice Makonese ruled.
Some unscrupulous land barons in Ruwa had formed several housing co-operatives including the Shingiriro and Solomon Mujuru housing co-operatives that were collecting US$21 per month from each of the registered 5 300 members for a period of 10 months, fleecing nearly US$1,1 million from the home seekers during that period.
Some of the home seekers had already constructed homes before the land owners approached the courts seeking the eviction order.

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