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Zimbabwean Church Takes NRZ To Supreme Court Over Land Eviction

2 weeks agoMon, 12 Feb 2024 06:09:50 GMT
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Zimbabwean Church Takes NRZ To Supreme Court Over Land Eviction

A local church in Zimbabwe has taken the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to the Supreme Court after being evicted from the land it was leasing from the railway company. The Redeemed House of God and Ojei Ventures Private Limited, the applicants in the case, appealed a High Court judgment that dismissed their application for spoliation against NRZ.

According to an affidavit filed by Eunicah Joan Ohizu, the managing director of the applicants, the church identified a large vacant piece of land on the western side of Harare city centre in February 2003. They inquired about the land with the City of Harare and were informed that it belonged to NRZ, according to NewsDay. Despite the land’s geological complexities, including being swampy and having deed pits and dumps, the church saw great potential in establishing a church and business infrastructure there. Ohizu said:

The respondent (NRZ) then referred me to their Estate Agent CB Richard Ellis Property Leasing Corporate. I had discussions with the estate agent’s official Mr Macdonald Chinyoka. A lease agreement was drafted and the initial lease period was from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2005. I submit that I signed the lease agreement in May 2003 and the respondent signed in November 2003 meanwhile they had permitted development work to commence and was in progress.

The church then entered into a lease agreement with NRZ, with the initial lease period from July 2003 to June 2005. They invested over US$200,000 in backfilling and preparing the land for development. Over the years, they constructed various buildings on the premises, including a house, office block, ablution block, meeting room, church auditorium, church office blocks, commercial shops, retail shops, and a warehouse.

However, NRZ later began questioning whether the church had the necessary licenses to operate the church and other businesses on the premises. In September 2023, NRZ issued a notice of termination of the lease agreement to the church. The church argued that NRZ had unlawfully evicted them and taken occupation of the premises without following proper legal procedures.

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The church filed an urgent chamber application in December 2023, but it was struck off the urgent roll and erased from the record by Justice Emilia Muchawa. The High Court judge, Justice Emy Tsanga, dismissed the application for spoliation, stating that there was no forceful dispossession warranting a spoliation order. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the church has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

The case is currently pending in the Supreme Court, and the church seeks to regain its rights to the leased land. The church argues that NRZ took the law into its own hands and illegally occupied the premises without proper consent or following the appropriate legal procedures.

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