By PAUL MBOSHYA
RESIDENTSÂ of Sekelela in Lusaka West are living in fear after five houses were demolished on Wednesday because they are believed to have been built on land owned by a Mr Kelly Clayton.
The resident said the land wrangles begun in 1997 after the previous landowner Stephanus Moustard died and one of his dependants allegedly soldÂ the land to Mr Clayton.
Though the victims charged that Mr Clayton sent police officers to demolish the house, he denied it saying he was away.
â€œI was out of the country when the demolition took place. I have just landed in Lusaka. Kapena muimvela ndeke [as you can hear the droning of the plane in the background] I was not involved, call me tomorrow,â€ Mr Clayton said on Thursday.
One of the victims, Mercy Chipili explained that about 20 men in two Toyota land cruisers and a Mitsubishi canter went to her piece of land on Wednesday about 04:00 hours without warning and stormed her house, removed her belongings and demolished part of it.
But acting police spokesperson Esther Katongo said it is not the policeâ€™s mandate to carry out demolitions.
â€œI can confirm that the police officers they saw are from Operations Lusaka Division. It was the bailiffs that were demolishing under a court order. We as the police merely protect the people who demolish the houses,â€ Ms Katongo said.
The victimsâ€™ lawyer, Martha Mushipe said it is unacceptable that the demolition took place before an injunction could be heard.
â€œI was attending some Supreme Court cases and so the case was adjourned to October 25,â€ she said.
The residents said they have lived on the land, which was given to them by the previous owner.
â€œWe have stayed here for almost forty years and the previous owner gave us this land and also allowed us to create a graveyard for our dead on the land,â€ Mrs Chipili said.
By PAUL MBOSHYA