By Farai Dauramanzi
Residents of Hopley Farm whose houses were damaged by heavy rains that hit the country two weeks ago have started receiving help from Red Cross through the local councillor of the area.
The house collapses which have been reported to have affect 600 houses by some sections of the media are said to have resulted in the death of one person, 7 year old Trish Mapata who died on 3 January 2015 due to injuries sustained when the house she was sleeping in collapsed owing to the rains. Many other houses in the new settlement were also reduced to rubble and some residents whose houses are still standing have since resorted to covering the exterior walls with plastics to prevent further damage.
When 263Chat visited the area on 9 January 2015, Red Cross volunteers were busy setting up a tent at the Mapata residence to provide temporary accommodation to the family. Sharon Rashai (27) who is the mother of the late Trish said that they were appealing for any help from well-wishers.
“The tragedy came when we least expected it and we are appealing for help because all our property including furniture was destroyed when the house collapsed. Right now we do not have anywhere to start from,” said a tearful Rashai.
The Mapata family also received blankets, pots and 20 litre water containers from Red Cross. However, no official from Red Cross was present to give details on the assistance the organisation was offering to the house collapse victims.
Councillor of the area Rai Gwenambira (Ward 1) said that the house collapses were mainly due to the fact that most of the houses in the area are temporary shelters that were built using sub-standard farm bricks and explained that she has since sourced help for the victims.
“Right now we do not have the actual number of the affected houses but we will be carrying out an assessment of the whole area to see which houses were destroyed so that we provide help of tents and blankets to victims,” said Gwenambira.
Gwenambira also complained of one council official (name provided) whom she said was engaging in corrupt activities that were stalling efforts to regularise the settlement. The councillor explained that regularisation of the settlement would enable Hopley residents to build permanent structures.
Catherine Kampila the district administrator for Waterfalls district concurred with Gwenambira on the issue of regularisation and said that there was also urgent need to revisit the way people of Hopley Farm are living as they were faced with various other challenges besides shelter.
“Hopley Farm residents also face challenges of water and sanitation. You find that some of the wells are dug near toilets (mostly pit latrines) and this poses a serious health hazard. So there is need for council to speed up the process of regularising the stands which were acquired legally so that the owners can build permanent structures to replace the temporary structures,” said Kampila.
According to the Waterfalls district administrator the area accommodates more than 12 000 houses. However, most of the houses are temporary structures as they are still to be regularised by council. Hopley Farm is a settlement situated 20km outside Harare’s City Centre that is said to have been created in 2006 to cater for victims of operation Murambatsvina.