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Drug Dealers, Street Kids Evicted From Abandoned First StreeBuilding

A DOSS house in an abandoned building along George Silundika Avenue between First Street Mall and Sam Nujoma Street in Harare, reported to be a centre of drug dealing, was yesterday raided by police and the 21 people living there were evicted.

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

The residents of the small single-story building varied. Some were smartly dressed, and some had not changed clothes recently. Some were known to hang around the area during the day, others obviously had better employment or at least a better income, with security guards at nearby buildings suggesting that they had been earning money from drug dealing.

A couple of women occupants had beautiful hairstyles, including what appeared to be Brazilian hair, which is associated with rich people, if it is original.

Some smartly dressed people arrived by car, appearing to be worried about the eviction, raising suspicion that they could have been the ones who took over the building to rent space, or were up to more degrading activity.

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The building has been abandoned for well over a decade, when the car park and shop were shut down behind a gate, and it became a doss house almost four years ago. The large empty yard was increasingly used as a rubbish dump.

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

Someone had split the building using simple partitions and curtains in 15 separate but tiny rooms.

Some were living as couples and appeared to be devastated at being forced to move out, and at least one had a small baby.

Police first arrived and gave the occupants a one hour ultimatum to vacate, and they immediately packed while municipal police stood watch and Harare City Council garbage crews were clearing the garbage that had been piling inside the premises for years.

They also pulled down the brick wall and gate 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 place.

In an interview, a security officer manning a building close to the place said it had become a hub for drug dealers.

“During the night, expensive cars would come to this place to either buy or distribute drugs. Some of those people would then resell at night clubs around Harare. That is why they dress better and eat expensive food,” said the security guard who declined to be named.

Secretary for Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in the War Veterans League, Cde Adonia Makombe, said the exercise was long overdue.

“This is a Government building which has been idle for more than 10 years and many social vices were taking place here, including robbery, prostitution, and selling of drugs,” he said.

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

Cde Makombe said the operation was is in line with the National Environment Cleaning Day launched by President Mnangagwa in December 2018.

“We are moving on to other hot spots in the CBD like Albion Street and Leopold Takawira, and at Dutch Reformed Church along Samora Machel.

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

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

All the occupants refused to comment.


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