By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
08 May 2014
There was drama at the Reigate Compound on Thursday when angry residents assaulted Umguza Rural District Council workers who were destroying their dwellings.
Council workers were busy uprooting the drainage pipes and the water engine when irate residents pounced on them. Reports said the council workers fled from the scene, only to return with armed rangers.
Demolitions at the compound started in November last year, only to be stopped by the High Court within two days following an application by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on behalf of the residents. Within days of the order the demolitions resumed, only to be stopped pending out of court negotiations between the council and the residents.
The residents initially wanted to file a contempt of court application against the council but the move was put on hold to make way for the negotiations. But this week the council resumed the destruction of the compound, which prompted the residents to take the law into their own hands.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said emotions were very high at the compound with some residents threatening to assault the council employees again.
According to Saungweme, the demolitions are calculated to render the entire compound not fit for humans to live in. He said people who go on holiday often return to find their houses destroyed.
The council wants to turn the Reigate area into a residential suburb. But the residents argue that the council is violating their right to shelter. About 300 families will be left homeless if the compound is finally destroyed.
It is not the first time for angry residents to take law into their own hands. Earlier this year vendors assaulted Bulawayo Municipal police as they seized their wares on grounds that they were trading illegally.