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THE Bulawayo City Council has turned down an application by the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) to purchase Thokozani Flats where 32 prison officers reside.
The BBC has instead resolved to implement a court order to evict the prison officers.
The local authority and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs have been locked in a protracted 14-year wrangle, which resulted in the council cancelling the lease agreement over non-payment of rentals by the occupants. BCC leased out the flats to the Ministry in April 1967 before it rescinded the decision in November 2001 over non-payment of rentals.
In November last year, the High Court granted an eviction order in favour of BCC to evict the 32 prison officers from the flats over $25,000 rental arrears which has since ballooned to $49,000. The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Francis Bere follows a court application by the local authority, the owners of the residential flats comprising 32 units.
According to the latest council minutes, ZPCS made an application to BCC to purchase the flats following the court order evicting them from the same. The ZPCS said accommodation near the Bulawayo Prison was hard to come by.
Simela Dube, the director of engineering services, suggested that ZPCS be sold land so that they develop their block of flats instead of purchasing the Thokozani flats from Council. The housing and community services department has already written an eviction order on 32 flats at Thokozani Flats.
From the deliberations, council resolved to re-affirm its previous resolutions to evict prison officers and take possession of the flats.- Source-chronicle