By NKOMBO KACHEMBA and MWILA NTAMBI
OVER 80 families whose houses were demolished by the Kitwe City Council (KCC) in Mindolo-North have relocated to a temporary campsite in Parklands residential area set up by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU).
Three weeks ago, a team of Zambia Police Service and KCC demolished 600 houses built on illegally-acquired land belonging to Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) and Phoenix Contractors.
Speaking during the tour of the campsite in Kitwe on Monday, Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Davies Mwango said the residents of Mindolo-North will only be allowed to stay at the camp for three months and DMMU will thereafter pull down the tents.
“The issue in Mindolo-North is not a disaster, we are just doing humanitarian work here so that our people do not sleep in the cold but after three months, we are coming to remove our tents,” Mr Mwango said.
He said DMMU does not support illegality but that it has a mandate to ensure citizens left homeless are provided with tents.
Mr Mwango appealed to Kitwe town clerk Bornwell Luanga to find alternative land where residents whose houses were demolished will be relocated in the next three months.
He urged the local authority to be proactive and not allow people to build houses on illegally-acquired plots
Mr Mwango wondered why KCC waited for people to complete building houses only to demolish them and leave families homeless.
And Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) board member Martin Sinyangwe said 100 tents have been mounted at the site and 80 families relocated.
Mr Sinyangwe said ZRCS is working with DMMU and the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to screen affected families to identify those in dire need of accommodation.
He also said ZRCS has procured 100 blankets, which will be distributed to affected families.
“The people of Mindolo-North are now willing to move to the campsite here in Parklands. So far, we have 80 families in the camp. Water is being supplied to the camp and we also have a place where they can access [medical] treatment,” Mr Sinyangwe said.
And Mr Luanga said the local authority is trying to find alternative land where the affected families will be relocated.
He said the local authority had warned residents to stop building houses before demolishing the structures.
“I personally went to Mindolo-North to tell the people not to build houses in that area but they continued, some of these people claim they bought the pieces of land from the residential development committee,” Mr Luanga said.
Meanwhile, William Forrest, the lawyer representing eight people accused of illegal land transactions in Kitwe’s Mindolo-North, has complained that his clients are tired of police abuse and misconduct.
And the state yesterday applied that the eight accused persons be discharged under Section 88 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
This is in a case in which Cosam Mulubwe, Chrisent Samutete, Noah Mumba, James Mabula, Raphael Mulembe, Priscilla Kakoma, Jacqueline Katete and Maybin Kalasa were jointly charged with criminal trespass and obtaining money by false pretences.
When the matter came up for trial before magistrate Kampinda Chipamu yesterday, the prosecutor informed the court that the State wanted to withdraw the case and to jointly charge the accused persons with other people.
But Mr Forrest wondered why police were being abusive towards his clients whom he described as poor people.