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Hwange Colliery blocked from evicting ex-employee

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

HWANGE Colliery Company (HCC) has been directed to allow one of its former employees back to his place of official residence after the company “violently” evicted him from the property.

Pyanga Sibanda, a former HCC employee, had been residing at a house situated at H4 Lusumbami Township in Hwange owned by the company with his family awaiting terminal benefits after his retrenchment.

In court papers at hand, Sibanda, who was evicted alongside other former HCC employees from the coal company’s properties on July 13, said he had no option but to seek recourse at the courts as he had nowhere to go.

“Further and because of the movement restrictions because of the national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is nowhere I can go to secure accommodation.

“The forced eviction has left me and my family exposed to the disastrous effects of Covid-19,” reads in part Sibanda’s founding affidavit filed at the Magistrates Court through his lawyer Brian Majamanda from the Centre for National Resource Governance.

Sibanda argued that his eviction was illegal as he had not been given any notice.

“I am entitled to three calendar months’ notice period in terms of the law before I am evicted,” he added.

“I must be given adequate time in terms of the law to secure alternative accommodation.

“In addition, I will hasten to state that the respondent owes me my terminal benefits and it has even failed to religiously and consistently follow the payment scheme which I entered into with it.”

The courts granted Sibanda interim relief allowing him and his family back to the property.

His lawyer, Majamanda, confirmed the development.

“He has been allowed to get back to the premises courtesy of a provisional order, which we obtained at the Hwange magistrates courts,” he said.

According to court papers, the messenger of court was directed to assist Sibanda to occupy the premises without any trouble.

“The respondent and all those acting through it or in concert with it claiming occupation or in possession of house number H4 Lusambami Township in Hwange shall restore possession and occupation of the house to the applicant who is hereby entitled forthwith to resume occupation of the house and to continue residing there without hindrance, interference or obstruction,” the interim relief granted in his favour reads.

“To the extent that it becomes necessary, the messenger of court is hereby authorised and empowered to attend to the applicant, remove padlocks/key blockers and restore the status quo ante of occupation of house number H4 Lusumbami Township to the applicant.”

HCC is engaged in a labour dispute with its former employees over outstanding payments and non-payment of terminal benefits.

In 2018, spouses of mineworkers occupied the companies’ premises protesting against the coal miner’s failure to pay wages and salaries for their husbands as and when they became due for the last five years.

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