Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » High Court Saves Mazowe Families From Police Evictions

THE HIGH Court on Monday ordered a temporary stop in police evictions on five families still staying at a Mazowe farm although the families were granted a six months’ grace to wind up their farming activities on the land as well as find new homes.

The temporary relief was given after the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had sought a court injunction against the “arbitrary” evictions on the poor families by law enforcement agents.

The families have been staying on Arnold Farm 10 in Mazowe since 2000, when the government backed land invasions started.

However, before Monday’s court ruling, hundreds of families had already been evicted from the farm.

But a timely intervention by the ZLHR, through Harare lawyers Tonderai Bhatasara and Gift Mtisi, saved the day for the families that were up for eviction.

The ZLHR says the court challenge was aimed at protecting the families’ rights to shelter.

The lawyers group argues the rights of the affected families were protected under the Rural Land Occupiers (Protection from Eviction) Act, (Chapter 20:26).

It further argues government has also reneged on its commitment to grant the families offer letters that would have regularised their continued stay on the farm.

In spite of this, ZLHR says, police on March 22, “without notice to the provisions of the law that they are obliged to uphold, demolished the homesteads of some of the families and ordered them to vacate the farm within forty-eight hours and in any event, by no later than 24 March 2014.”

The families approached the High Court seeking to assert their freedom from arbitrary evictions set out in Section 73 of the Constitution.

The High Court obliged by granting the families a maximum of six months of stay in the farm to allow them to harvest their crops, which are almost due for harvest.

ZLHR says the court considered “the constitutional provisions on the rights to shelter – more specifically that no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.”

“Although the High Court has made this welcome decision, of allowing the families to remain at the farm and wind up their operations for a period of at least six months, ZLHR will continue to follow closely, and with interest, the progress in this matter and hopes that when it comes for finalisation, the court will adopt a rights based approach as opposed to a sympathy driven outcome,” the ZLHR said.

Source : New Zimbabwe