LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
LUSAKA Mayor Miles Sampa has grown cold feet over his earlier threats to raze houses illegally built in Chingwere graveyard saying it is against his policy.
After threatening to flatten the structures on April 22 this year the city father has a change of heart saying he feels for the owners of the properties.
Mr Sampa said he had changed his mind over the issue and was not going ahead with his plans to demolish the houses.
In an interview with the Sun, Mr Sampa said he would spare those who had already completed building and stop the construction of those that were incomplete.
He said he would not demolish complete illegal structures at Chingwere cemetery because that was against his policy.
He said he would only demolish those structures that were still being developed and advised residents in that area to stop building or face demolition.
“Remember my policy, l do not demolish houses that have already been built or finished and people are already living in them. The council should be able to stop illegal constructions as they happen, not when people have built their houses,” Mr Sampa said.
“Those structures that are complete were built before my time and as mayor I will not allow any more construction.”
Mr Sampa said he would find ways of resolving the issue with those who had built and were already living in the houses at the cemetery instead of demolishing them.
He would soon be visiting cemeteries in Chunga, Old and New Leopards Hill as well as Chingwere to restore sanity at the burial grounds.
“Those building and nearing window level should know that when I come myself with a hammer l will demolish them. They should stop building and take the money somewhere else,” Mr Sampa said.
In April, he warned warned that all those who had encroached on Chingwere cemetery were wasting their money because soon their houses would be demolished.
Mr Sampa said people should have respect for the dead.
Those who were greedy and were building structures on the graveyards should stop wasting their money.
“People who are encroaching on the cemetery are wasting their money because we will demolish their houses soon. We need to respect the dead and the land reserved for the dead,” he said then.
In the same month Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata said the construction of houses in Chingwere cemetery was disheartening and should never be allowed.
“The encroachment on land at Chingwere cemetery is very disheartening; we cannot allow such a situation in our country because Zambia is a Christian nation and the dead must be respected.
“That is a graveyard and the dead are supposed to rest,”
Ms Kapata said.
“This must be illegal allocation of land by unscrupulous people. We will need to get to the bottom of this matter and reverse the situation through the local authority.”
Ms Kapata said she would consult the Ministry of Local Government because she was positive that her ministry had not given land at the graveyard.
Some people have built houses and are already occupying them right in the cemetery while some structures are at different levels of construction.