Police destroy wrong houses in case of mistaken identity

A scene from the mass demolitions during Murambatsvina in 2005. This time the police had the  authority from the High Court but destroyed the wrong houses.

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
30 June 2014

Police officers armed with a High court order razed to the ground the wrong houses in a land dispute involving two headmen in Buhera.

A deputy sheriff from Chivhu accompanied police details to Denhere village where they set alight 28 homesteads leaving over 300 villagers’ homeless. But it has emerged that the police and the deputy sheriff targeted the wrong houses in a case of mistaken identity.

Passmore Nyakureba, a ZimRights regional council chairperson for Manicaland, told SW Radio Africa that the homes earmarked by the court for eviction and demolition were not the ones that were destroyed.

‘The deputy sheriff identified the wrong houses. He went to a wrong location thinking he was at the correct place. This is a catastrophic mistake which will have dire consequences,’ Nyakureba said.

The law enforcement agents who destroyed the houses in Mafusire area in Buhera central had a High Court order which gave them the powers to evict the villagers, whom they believed to be illegally settled in a disputed area.

There has been a long running dispute between two headmen in the area. One headman identified as Marambanyika went to court seeking an order to have villagers who resettled on his farm land to be evicted, but the villagers under headman Kotsanai Denhere filed an appeal.

‘There was no follow up to the appeal and I think the order to stop the evictions elapsed allowing the deputy sheriff to come down and destroy the homes. Unfortunately, he identified the wrong homes which have been burnt down by mistake,’ said Nyakureba.

The Newsday newspaper reported that the action has seen more than 100 children dropping out of school after the incident.

The ZANU PF MP for Buhera South, Joseph Chinotimba, on Sunday visited the affected villagers and urged them to take legal action.

The war vet said he would soon engage Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to stop the evictions.



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