A sombre mood engulfed families of Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) tenants at Ngumbe in Blantyre yesterday afternoon after they were given 15 hours to vacate the houses following a High Court order.
Nearly 15 households were issued with eviction orders from their rented two-bedroomed semi-detached houses which the parastatal constructed on an alleged private land with a bank loan.
The family of Costas and Samantha Scordis claims it owns the freehold farming land which it had been using as a farm (Chitseko Estate and Kuseli Kemvenji Estate) for several years.
Lawyer Kuleza Phokoso who is representing the Scordis family said the land dispute and the issue was still in court.
“Whilst the issue is still in court, MHC went ahead and started constructing the houses, sub-dividing the plots possibly to sell and also rent out the houses. When my clients saw MHC was doing that, we went to the High Court to apply for an injunction to stop those activities.
“So, on August 19 the High Court granted that order to stop every activity on this piece of land. The court has stopped the sub-division of the plots, construction of roads and tampering with the terrain of the land, bringing people on the land and renting out the houses. So we came to serve the people with the court order as part of its enforcements,” he said.
One of the evictees who refused to identify herself said her family’s right had been violated and would take action against MHC.
“The order is coming just before 5pm and I find that as very unfair. As a citizen I need to be respected. Now I will be homeless and telling me to leave this place by 9am is unrealistic and ridiculous,” she said.
When contacted MHC acting chief executive officer (CEO) Jordan Chipatala declined to comment on the matter referring Weekend Nation to the corporation’s public relations officer Enestina Lunguzi whose phone was not available.
Before starting the housing project, MHC management is reported to have ignored a professional advice not to proceed due to the ownership issue forcing the Scordis to drag the corporation to court in 2018.
This disregard compelled the family to file a suit against the parastatal in 2018 demanding a permanent injunctive order stopping it and its agents from claiming ownership of the land, trespassing and encroachment and building of houses.
The family further demanded MHC and its agents to remove any structures built on the land and “if they do not remove the claimant [Scordis] would demolish and remove all such structures at the cost of the defendants [MHC].”
The Scordis claimed they suffered loss because of the trespass and encroachment on their 53 hectares piece of land for which they were seeking damages. The family further alleged that despite showing MHC title documents of the land including copies of the maps, the corporation without documentation insisted owning it, a claim MHC has objected.