The Constitutional Court has dismissed a challenge by a group of disabled persons against their eviction from a home in Harare run by Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust, ending an almost 20-year despute.
This means Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust can now evict 17 disabled persons who, since 1999, have been refusing to vacate Masterton Court in the Avenues.
The trust has agreed to pay US$800 to each of the affected persons upon leaving the property within a stipulated period.
The Masterton Cheshire Home was used by the trust to accommodate disabled people undertaking vocational courses in private colleges in Harare’s central business district and those undergoing physiotherapy at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
However, in November 1999 the trust resolved to close the home and residents were served with notices to vacate as Leonard Cheshire moved away from residential care to community-based rehabilitation.
Some residents did not vacate the premises prompting the trust to pursue eviction through legal processes in 2004.
In 2010, the High Court declined to order the eviction of residents, prompting the trust to appeal to Supreme Court.
The appeal was determined on February 9, 2015, setting aside the High court judgment and ordering eviction of residents.
But the residents sought the intervention of the Constitutional Court, arguing they had a right to shelter. The Constitutional Court dismissed the appeal.
“Whereupon, after perusing the papers filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that the matter be and is hereby dismissed with costs on a legal practitioner and clients scale,” reads the court judgment.
Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust programmes co-ordinator Mr Greaterman Chivandire said the organisation was working closely with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to ensure affected people received cash assistance.
“The residents will this week start completing forms at the Ministry of Labour which will ensure that they are paid cash to start income generating projects,” he said. “The 17 residents will receive about US$800 each and we are also working with the ministry to help locate affordable and suitable accommodation for them.”
The disabled residents’ representative, Mr Lewis Garaba, appealed to the Department of Social Welfare and the trust to expedite assistance in securing alternative accommodation.
“We are done with the court case what we want to talk about now are life issues because we are dealing with people’s lives here,” he said. “Apart from the cash, we would also want to know about accommodation, we would want to know where we will be staying after vacating this place.”
The Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Ministry had not responded to written questions sent by The Sunday Mail by time of going to print.
The organisation was established in 1981 and registered as Leonard Cheshire Homes Zimbabwe Central Trust with the aim of giving people with disabilities short-term rehabilitation facilities.