Over 300 families’ homes razed to the ground

The Chronicle

Nqobile Tshili/Belinda Moyo, Chronicle Reporters
MORE than 300 families who had illegally settled at Willsgrove Farm in Umguza District were left homeless after they were evicted from the property and their homes were demolished this week.

The farm is owned by MacDonald Bricks which was in possession of a court order to evict the families.

On Monday the families were given three days’ notice to move out of the property but they did not heed the notice leading to evictions being carried out on Thursday and yesterday.

A front-end loader demolishes one of the homesteads. — Picture by Eliah Saushoma

A Chronicle news crew visited the farm on both days and witnessed a bulldozer razing down the remaining houses.

Property belonging to the families was dumped on the roadside along the Bulawayo-Gwanda Road. Most of the evicted families said they did not have alternative places to go.

Some of the evicted people yesterday said they had spent the night by the roadside with rains soaking them.

“We were given the eviction notice on Monday and three days later they are evicting us. We were not given a chance to find new homes. What would you do with a three day notice in this economy?” asked Mr Lovemore Chisale, whose property had been dumped along the road.

Mr Chisale fears that his minor child might catch a cold due to the rains while the family is in the open.

Another victim, Ms Siphetheni Maphosa (63) said what is traumatising for her is that the sheriff removed her property in her absence.

As a result, she said, some of her property is missing.

“After they removed my property in my absence they loaded it and dumped it here. Some of my property is missing and I don’t even know where I would go from here. The rains are also damaging our property,” said Ms Maphosa.

Some of the families said they have school going children whose lives have been disrupted as they have been evicted at the beginning of the school term.

Mr Give Musimuku said he had lived on the farm since 1983.

“I have stayed here since 1983, this has been my home ever since and I have children. We don’t know where we will go. We were only told three days back that we were supposed to leave the area, if we could have been advised in three months’ time we could have found a place to stay. Can you imagine now that it is a rainy season where will we go?” he asked.

Umguza Member of Parliament who is also the Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Richard Moyo, said the evictions were inevitable as the land was a private property.

He blamed land barons for swindling members of the public and selling them stands on private property.

“I am aware of the evictions and the place they are being evicted from is a private property. The issue is that MacDonald settled its ex-workers, five of them, after they had said they had nowhere to go after they retired. I know one of them Magangeni Ncube,” said Cde Moyo.

“So what happened is that those people who were settled gave themselves positions and started selling land to people amounting to 400 families occupying the land. This is the reason why Willsgrove in 2015 took them to court.”

He challenged land seekers to follow proper channels when seeking stands so that they do not fall into a similar trap. – @nqotshili/@MoyoOlivet