HUNDREDS of residents of Kitwe's Kamakonde area on Wednesday afternoon ran amok and fought running battles with police after word went round that the council would demolish all illegal structures.
The residents blocked the Kitwe-Kalulushi road with burning tyres around 12:30 hours and attempted to destroy public property in the area but a combined team of police from Kitwe and Kalulushi that rushed to the scene managed to disperse the angry mob.
Several rioting residents were picked up by police in riot gear.
One of the residents, Annie Kabwe, said they were sold the plots in 2009 by the Resident Development Committee officials and the then MMD leadership in the area assured them that nobody would demolish their structures.
"The RDCs that were scrapped immediately after the change of government allocated over 300 plots to us in 2009. We have even built but now the council is saying that they will demolish these plots because RDCs were not an authority and had no powers to give out land, but the thing is we have built houses already and our appeal is that the council must just legalise these plots and give us papers; that's all we are asking," Kabwe said.
But Kitwe City Council acting public relations manager Dorothy Sampa said the local authority would never promote lawlessness as some residents had built structures on private land.
She said the council had a sensitisation programme on illegal plots in Kamakonde, which forms the new Kitwe West.
"We've been engaging those people since last week. There are about 205 illegal structures built on other people's plots and the new Kitwe West plots we advertised sometime back went for K15 million (KR15,000). Now, imagine some people that got papers and paid the money for their plots discovered that there were illegal structures on their land. We had to go and talk to the illegal developers and assured them that we will find alternative land for them but they should not build on other people's properties," Sampa said.
She said people must follow the required procedure in land acquisition as the now defunct RDCs were never custodians of the land and had no authority to allocate plots.
Sampa said it was unfortunate that some individuals within the area were blatantly breaking the law on land acquisition.