60 Eastlea families face eviction


About 60 families, headed by pensioners and widows, occupying St Tropez apartments in Eastlea, Harare have appealed to Government to save them from eviction tomorrow as the National Social Security Authority reclaims its properties.

Some of the families have been staying at the premises since the 1980s.

NSSA is banking on a judgment delivered by Supreme Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi in March ordering the tenants to vacate the premises.

The parties have been involved in a court battle for the past 18 years with the tenants claiming that they had purchased the flats.

A writ of ejectment was issued last week at the High Court and the tenants have up to tomorrow to vacate the premises.

Justice Mathonsi ruled that the lease agreements under which the tenants moved into the flats lapsed in 2000 when they were given and took an option to purchase the flats in question.

“They are therefore occupying the flats not by virtue of any lease agreement, but because they claim the flats in terms of the purported sale agreement allegedly entered,” he said.

“In my view, these matters resolve themselves on the facts which are common cause. Despite the respondents’ bizarre averment in their pleas that they paid $24 million (Zimbabwean currency), as the purchase price for the blocks of flats.”

Justice Mathonsi added: “It is common cause now that they did not pay a single penny towards the purchase price and they have belatedly offered to pay the applicant a sum of $650 000 as purchase price ,which offer the applicant has rejected insisting that the flats are no longer for sale.”

The tenants say their trouble started when NSSA sold the flats to ZRP without first giving them the option to buy as sitting tenants. They say they challenged the sale and NSSA then agreed that they buy them. Some of the tenants say they paid ZWD500 000 but NSSA made a U-turn and demanded that they pay in US dollars soon after dollarisation.

Interviewed tenants yesterday appealed for Government intervention on the matter.

They said they were willing to settle scores with NSSA and buy off the flats at any price.

“We have been staying in these flats since 1988 and as pensioners and widows, this is the only place to call home and I do not have anywhere to go from here,” said Mrs Sabina Maredza.

“We are now appealing to the Minister of Labour and Social Services Cde Prisca Mupfumira and the Government to address our plight as we have nowhere to go come Tuesday. NSSA’s mandate is to provide social protection. Where is that protection if they throw us out?”

Another tenant and pensioner Mrs Stella Kwambana said Government should utilise its building society to assist the families as they were willing to acquire loans from the society to secure their flats.

Pensioners and widows who served parastatals since independence are among some of the unfortunate tenants who have been staying at the apartments for low rentals ranging between $100 and $200 for one and two-bedroomed flats.

NSSA is the owner of entire blocks of flats known as St Tropez, St Maxime, St Rapheal, St Monaco, St Cannes and St Juan Les Pins in Eastlea, Harare.

The upmarket apartments have since deteriorated as tenants were failing to renovate their houses due to uncertainties of the legal battle.

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