Street children evacuated from First Street building

the herald

Correspondent Yeukai Karengezeka Herald

A DOSS house in a derelict building along George Silundika Avenue between First Street Mall and Sam Nujoma Street in Harare believed to be a drug trafficking hub was raided yesterday by police and the 21 who lived there were evicted.

The building was used by people as old as 40. It is an old one-story structure, perhaps the oldest surviving building on George Silundika Avenue, on the corner of an almost empty stand, which for many years was used as a private car. park, between Clinton House, a shopping mall, and Silundika House, a multi-story office building.

The inhabitants of the small one-story building varied. Some were smartly dressed and some hadn’t changed clothes recently. Some were known to hang around the area during the day, others obviously had better jobs or at least a better income, with security guards at nearby buildings suggesting they made money from drug dealing.

A couple of housewives had beautiful hairstyles, including what appeared to be Brazilian hair, which is associated with wealthy people, if that’s original.

Smartly dressed people drove up, appearing worried about the eviction, raising suspicions they might have been the ones taking over the building to rent space, or were engaged in more demeaning activities .

The building was abandoned for over a decade, when the parking lot and store were closed behind a gate, and it became a doss house nearly four years ago. The large empty yard was increasingly used as a dumping ground.

Yesterday’s eviction was facilitated by the Veterans League, working with the police, Harare City Council, the Environmental Management Authority and the Provincial Social Development Office.

Someone had divided the building using simple partitions and curtains into 15 separate but tiny rooms.

Some were living as a couple and seemed devastated to have been forced to move, and at least one had a small baby.

Police arrived first and gave the occupiers a one hour ultimatum to vacate the premises, and they immediately packed their bags while City Police stood guard and Harare City Council refuse crews were cleaning up the trash that had been piling up inside the premises for years.

They also knocked down the brick wall and door at the front of the stand to discourage anyone from living there again since the area is now clear. A security company has since been appointed to guard the premises.

In an interview, a security guard who occupied a building near the location said it had become a hub for drug traffickers.

“During the night, expensive cars would come here to buy or distribute drugs. Some of these people would then resell in nightclubs around Harare. That’s why they dress better and eat expensive food,” said said the security guard who requested anonymity.

Veterans League Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Secretary Cde Adonia Makombe said the exercise was long overdue.

“This is a government building that has been inactive for more than 10 years and many social vices took place there, including theft, prostitution and drug dealing,” he said.

“We took this initiative after realizing that as veterans we also have a mandate to correct the issues that are wrong, with the aim of restoring Sunshine City’s status to Harare.”

Cde Makombe said the operation was in line with the National Environmental Cleanup Day launched by President Mnangagwa in December 2018.

“We move on to other CBD hotspots like Albion Street and Leopold Takawira, and the Dutch Reformed Church along Samora Machel.

“These street children occupy strategic points in terms of sites in Harare, yet we receive so many foreigners and it does not give a good image of the country.”

Some other business operators in the area applauded the government for clearing the area as some of the occupants were stealing.

All occupants declined to comment.

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