HIGH COURT EVICTS TWO FROM STATE LAND newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe

HIGH COURT EVICTS TWO FROM STATE LAND newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe

Two members of a cooperative housing society found themselves homeless after the Supreme Court ordered them to vacate their plot of land, because the land is owned by a company that leases the property from the state.

Mr Willard Rufu and Mr Samson Mutsagondo had already built their houses on the residential terraces allocated to them by their Tirivepano Housing Cooperative at Retreat, Southlea Park.

The two are now facing eviction and demolition of their homes after Brumford Services (Pvt) Ltd, the lease holder with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works in respect of Suite No. 5098 Saturday Retreat, Harare, after the company. An eviction case was filed in the High Court alleging that the two men, members of the cooperative housing society, broke into the property and built their buildings without permission.

It applied for summary judgment, arguing that the two men had no real defense to their claim.

The company based its request on the fact that it has ownership of the property based on a lease contract it signed with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works on March 31, 2020.

She said the lease still stands, and the company continues to pay monthly rents for the property to the state.

The property was designated as industrial land and this position was clarified in a letter dated 31 August 2022 from the then Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

It was also said that the two did not have legal documents giving them the right to occupy the property and the ministry did not support their claims that they were legal allocators of the property.

But in their counterargument, Ruffo and Mutsagundo claimed ownership of the property through their cooperative which was allocated the same plot of land in 2005.

They claimed they had owned the property since 2005 and were not aware it had been converted for industrial use as Bromford claimed.

The two said the land use conversion was legally illegal because it was done without their knowledge.

They also argued that their right to remain in the property was based on an offer letter issued to the cooperative housing society, and they could not be evicted from the property as they had a clear right to occupy it.

After hearing counsel’s submissions, Judge Paul Mussetto granted Bromford’s motion for summary judgment, finding that he had proven his claim against the two.

“As a result, the first and second defendants and all those claiming occupation through the third defendant were ordered to vacate Suite 5098 Saturday Retreat, Southlea Park, Harare.

“The Mayor of Zimbabwe is hereby authorized and empowered to demolish any illegal structures constructed at Suite 5098 Saturday Retreat, Southlea Park, Harare,” Justice Mosethu said.

The costs of the lawsuit were also imposed on the two men and their cooperative.

In his ruling, Justice Musito noted that it was clear from the documentary evidence before the court that Bromford was allocated the disputed property through a lease signed with the Ministry.

The court found that Ruvo, Mutsagundo and their cooperative papers were not specific to the property they were allotted.

“The basis of their claim to the disputed property is somewhat ambiguous,” he said.

“No connection to the property was identified in the papers. Nothing was put before the court to justify any claim or entitlement to the property by any of the three defendants.

To this end, the judge ruled that the defendants had no legal basis to occupy the disputed property and accepted Bromford’s counsel’s submission that it would be a waste of time for this matter to go through all the trial proceedings when there was clearly no reasonable defense on the merits. Announce

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