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  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles

  • Hell on earth at Hopley Estate
    Grace Kombora, The Zimbabwe Independent
    August 26, 2005

    FOR ageing Machisi Kapesi (76) whose wobbly legs are badly scarred and barely covered with a dirty pair of trousers, sleeping in the dust at Hopley has become hell on earth.

    Hopelessness written all over his face, he does not know where he will be in the next two years with the mental torture he has suffered in the past 16 years.

    He does not know what the future holds for him as he has been displaced four times since he moved from Mozambique to Zimbabwe 39 years ago.

    Initially, he resided in Mbare suburb whilst working at Louis Construction. Later he relocated to Porta Farm where he was recently evicted under Operation Murambatsvina and relocated to Caledonia transit camp. He has since been moved to Hopley Estate south of Harare where he lives in a plastic shack.

    "I am tired of this life and wish I could disappear from the face of the earth. Just disappear out of this world because I have had enough," Kapesi said.

    The victims of government's poorly executed clean-up have been turned into nomads. Those who have not been allocated stands at Hopley are set to be moved again.

    "We were told to vacate this place this week and go where we came from," said Kapesi.

    The plastic shacks they call home are no higher than dog kennels. The shacks are without form and shape yet they are the homes of Hopley Estate residents whom government said it was accommodating in decent houses when their shacks were destroyed in May.

    Some sleep in the open on the ground bathed in dust everyday.

    With their goods lying in the open, they do not foresee a better future ahead of them.

    The living conditions at Hopley are atrocious as the residents rarely take a bath.

    They do not have proper places for bathing themselves.

    Those who are conscious of their cleanliness bath in Mukuvisi River or even in the open without their dignity in mind.

    "We even bath in the open because we do not have an option," said a confident Morris Matutu.

    Despite the temporary toilets that were built by Unicef, Hopley is replete with human waste which creates a bad odour at the camp.

    The Zimbabwe Independent visited the camp this week and witnessed young children relieving themselves in the open not far from cooking fires.

    "We fear an outbreak of diarrhoea at this place," said Virginia Tselo.

    Tselo, a pregnant woman with four children, is finding the life at the camp bizarre. She says no living creature deserves such terrible living.

    "What crime have we committed to the government that we are treated like this?" she added.

    She thought the government would allocate them proper housing after they were evicted from Porta Farm.

    Her children were deprived their right to education. They now roam the camp aimlessly with little hope of returning to school. The situation for them has been compounded by the sharp rise in school fees.

    Tselo's daughter who was set to write her final 'O' Level examinations in October will not sit for the exams due to continuous displacements.

    To earn a little money Hopley farm residents are resorting to selling tomatoes and vegetables in the transit camp and mending shoes. This week, those who did not meet the criteria to be allocated stands were contemplating where to go if the government carries out its threat.

    They cannot go back to Porta Farm which was demolished in June.

    If they resist eviction, residents say, government has threatened to unleash the army and the police to force them out.

    "Government officials notified us that police and soldiers will beat us up if we do not move," Kapesi said.

    Kapesi would rather die than move again.

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