UPDATE: Hundreds of shacks demolished at Zambezi

01 Jun 2016 18:10pm
KATIMA MULILO, 01 JUN (NAMPA) – Hundreds of housing structures made of mud and allegedly erected on town land earmarked for development in the Zambezi Region, are being demolished by officials from the Katima Mulilo Town Council.
On Wednesday, residents of Diary informal settlement, Macaravan-west informal settlement and parts of Cowboy formalised settlement woke up to bulldozers demolishing huts, some half built.
When Nampa arrived at the scene, hundreds of affected residents at the Diary settlement were seen shouting at officials to halt the demolition, as most hut owners were either away collecting firewood in the distant bushes or at work.
Affected resident Gregory Mutunda, 65, said he has proof of purchase for the plot but the council’s fire brigade and community affairs’ officers proceeded to run over his structure with a bulldozer.
“For goodness sake, it is winter! The mornings and nights are cold. Where will I sleep tonight, where do I go? I told them I had papers showing I bought the plot. The manner in which my house was destroyed is so heart-breaking. I do not deserve this,” said the guardian to his five under-aged orphaned grandchildren.
“We are voters who are now rendered landless. The hut cost money to build, only for it to be destroyed like this. I am with children and council has left us in a destitute situation,” Mutunda narrated.
Another woman only identified as Monde, a Zambian national who is now a domicile resident of Zambezi by marriage, could be seen running up and down, picking up reusable wooden poles from her neighbour’s compound that was also destroyed.
Monde said she will pack them away for her neighbour to reuse when building her house again.
“My neighbour is like a sister to me. How can I sit back and not help her. She will be distraught when she arrives and find her house destroyed. This exercise is cold like the coldest winter night,” said Monde.
A crowd could be observed hurling threats of violence in disapproval of the demolition exercise, also demanding to know why some shacks were skipped and others not.
Nampa could also observe council officials loading some poles onto their vehicles, much to the crowd’s displeasure, who said officials cannot confiscate poles without the owners’ knowledge.
Council officials at the scene refused to go on record but said the huts being demolished are of those illegally erected on the land.
“The areas where demolition is taking place are where town council is planning on servicing and putting up houses, shopping centres and recreation spots. Development cannot take place if people continue grabbing land and building huts without consent of the council,” said an official.
When contacted to shed light on the demolition exercise, town council chief executive officer Charles Nawa declined to tell Nampa how the decision was reached to destroy the structures.
Regional governor Lawrence Sampofu said he was not aware of any demolition of huts and shacks in Katima Mulilo.