Children left out in the cold, as land dispute turns nasty

At least thirty children have been left homeless following the demolition of houses at Reigate Compound by Umguza Rural District Council (URDC) last week Tuesday, a situation that has left the children exposed to adverse weather conditions.  

The demolition of the homes comes after a lengthy land dispute that dates back to 2013 between the residents and the local authority.

When CITE visited the demolished site on Monday, the women narrated the appalling conditions they have been subjected to and how their lives have been affected by the loss of their houses.

Narrating her ordeal, one of the residents, Elina Sibanda said some of their children have been forced to drop out of school.

“We are left in the open with primary school children, some of them are even orphans they were left in our care but we are also now desperate.

“The police who were taking our property could not wait for us to take some of our belongings first, we are just left with few blankets, we only heard that our property was dropped along Harare road,” Sibanda said.

“As it is, I lost my health cards together with children’s birth certificate, I do not know what will happen in terms of children’s documentation.”

Sibanda said some children are afraid to leave their sites as they fear that they will abandon them.

“Even though we try to ask for shelter from the owners of the new stands that you see here but some children refuse to go as they fear we will run away from them.

 “As it is, Sunday night I hardly slept because one of the children was very ill, it could be worsened by the cold.

“Even some of the children do not have  clothes and shoes, we can’t find them since this area was so packed with people coming to see what was going on, so we do not even know whether it was stolen or dropped by the roadside, but some of the children do not even have clothes,” Sibanda said.

An elderly woman, Getrude Ndlovu who could hardly speak due to old age said she was stranded and was struggling to take care of her deaf husband.

“I am saddened by this experience because my children died and left me in this area, all I want is accommodation, it is very sad to watch young children coming to this open area to call it home.

“Even their grandfather is old and deaf as he was affected by the work he was doing for the local authority, I do not know what I will do,” Ndlovu said.

Sibanda added that even though she tried in vain to plead with the local authority to allow them to collect their belongings from their houses but the pleas fell on deaf ears.

“I tried to plead with them to at least allow us to collect some of our belongings including clothes but they refused and proceeded to demolish our houses with our property still inside,” she said.

Sibanda added that they were traumatised by the experience and would need counselling services.

“The experience really traumatized us as they were heavily armed, we are just appealing to the government to have mercy on us since we are now stranded and we have nowhere else to go to,” she appealed.

However, efforts to get a comment from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)  Regional Manager Nosimilo Chanayiwa were fruitless as she was said to be out of the office.   

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