FOUR former Zipra fighters were rendered homeless and are living in the streets with their families following their eviction from Castle Arms Hotel in Bulawayo’s Richmond suburb.
The quartet, Nhlanhla Maphosa, Edson Ncube, Susan Sibanda and Zachariah Ndebele’s ejection from Castle Arms Hotel which was purchased by Nitram Holdings in the early 1980s with the aim to operate the property as a hotel for the benefit of former Zipra fighters came after an eviction order was served on them from the courts.
The quartet through their lawyer Mclean Mahaso of Tanaka Law Chambers, filed summons at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court challenging the order which they are arguing was fraudulently obtained on 26 June last year.
In their application they cited Nitrum Board (PVT) Ltd, a company owned by former Zipra fighters and The Messenger of Court as 1st and 2nd respondents respectively.
In their papers before the court, the former liberation war heroes or spouses of same argued that their eviction from Castle Arms Hotel has thrown them into untold suffering.
“On 26 June 2019 the court rendered a default judgement against the applicants in favour of the 1st respondent. The aforementioned default judgement was procured after 1st respondent had caused an application to be issued against applicants seeking their eviction from the premise known as Castle Arms Hotel, in Richmond, Bulawayo.
“Applicants were never served with the copy of the application and were therefore not aware of it. They only got wind of the default judgement on 14 February 2020 when they were served with the notice of removal.
“The applicants were therefore not in wilful default as the correct and accurate position is that applicants were never aware that any eviction proceedings had been instituted against them,” their application reads in part.
The applicants who are all unemployed argued that after they got wind of the default judgement, they quickly sprung into action seeking to have the matter remedied by engaging the 1st respondent’s lawyers.
After engaging the lawyers, they argued that they were assured that they would not be evicted.
“It was on 20 February 2020 that they realised that their efforts had not been fruitful when they were evicted by second respondent (Messenger of Court). Applicants as indigent citizens could not mobilise resources to engage legal counsel and had a glimmer hope when their legal practitioners of record agreed to take up the matter on a pro bono basis.
“Applicants have prima facie right in that they were placed in occupation of premises in question by the owner of same, Nitram Properties (Pvt) Ltd.
“The submission is made that their eviction from Castle Arms Hotel has thrown them into untold suffering. They are now homeless and currently living in the streets with their families. This should be construed in light of the fact that the right to shelter or dwelling is a constitutionally entrenched one.
“The applicants’ plight has had the effect of decimating their social fabric and rendering them destitute. The school going children have been adversely affected by the current state of affairs.
“This honourable court is implored to look favourably into applicants’ matter and help mitigate the damage they continue to suffer with each passing day”.
The applicants further stated that they should be reinstated on humanitarian grounds.
“The submission is made purely on humanitarian grounds. Applicants should be allowed to regain occupation of the premises in question. They are all war veterans who are pensioners and or surviving spouses of such. Their eviction has exposed them to vagaries of weather, diseases and mental anguish. They are also qualified to be beneficiaries of the properties acquired for the benefit of former Zipra fighters.”
The case is yet to be heard.