Il­le­gal set­tlers axe farm owner, bash cops in vi­o­lent evic­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Andile Tshuma

A NYAMANDLOVU farmer is bat­tling for life at Mpilo Cen­tral Hos­pi­tal while two cops and of­fi­cials from the Deputy Sher­iff ’s Of­fice have also been hos­pi­talised af­ter nine il­le­gal set­tlers al­legedly set upon them with axes, logs and stones.

The squat­ters, a court heard, were protest­ing over the ex­e­cu­tion of an evic­tion or­der is­sued by the High Court for them to leave Mr Luke Siz­iba’s farm.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the squat­ters bar­ri­caded a road by stand­ing in front of the ve­hi­cles which were used by the po­lice and the Sher­iff of the High Court.

They de­flated ve­hi­cle tyres, smashed wind­screens and dam­aged the ve­hi­cle body with axes and logs and stones.

The three women and six men claimed the po­lice and court of­fi­cials had no right to evict them from Bad­minton Farm in Nyamandlovu as they had been al­lo­cated the land by Chief Deli.

Thobek­ile Gumede (45), Bekezela Nkomo (39), Big­boy Ndlovu (46), Erita Midzi (53), Fash­ion Msi­manga (51), Mat­set­sereao Dlamini (38), Alexan­der Sibanda (60), Wil­broad Dube (66) and Paul Dube (65) all squeezed in the dock as they ap­peared be­fore Western Com­mon­age mag­is­trate Ms Tancy Dube charged with pub­lic vi­o­lence.

Mag­is­trate Dube de­nied them bail and re­manded them in cus­tody to Oc­to­ber 4.

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer Sergeant Sibanda told the court that the il­le­gal set­tlers were not fit for bail.

“Your Wor­ship, I op­pose their bail ap­pli­ca­tion be­cause they struck a man with an axe three times and his con­di­tion is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing at Mpilo (Cen­tral) Hos­pi­tal.

“The two as­saulted po­lice of­fi­cers are still ad­mit­ted to the camp hos­pi­tal.

“They could be a flight risk. Be­cause of his de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tion they are likely to face heav­ier charges.

“The charge could be grad­u­ated from as­sault to at­tempted mur­der, there­fore the ac­cused per­sons may be in a po­si­tion to try and es­cape the due process of the law,” said Sergeant Sibanda.

Mr Russel Dzete of Marond­edze, Mukuku and part­ners le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers, rep­re­sent­ing the il­le­gal set­tlers rub­bished the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer’s claims, say­ing that a court can­not base its rul­ings on as­sump­tions.

“You can­not base the rul­ings of the court on as­sump­tions. Let’s not talk about what is likely to hap­pen should Siz­iba’s con­di­tion get worse. We can­not pre­dict the fu­ture.

“The ac­cused per­sons can even die be­fore this mat­ter is even fi­nalised, that is an­other as­sump­tion. Can we base the court pro­cesses on that? Let us fo­cus on what we have now,” said Mr Dzete.

For the State, Mr Bu­sani Moyo said the nine il­le­gal set­tlers re­sisted a court or­der to va­cate Bad­minton Farm in Nyamandlovu and in­cited pub­lic vi­o­lence, which led to the loss of over $1 500 worth of prop­erty and $300 cash.

“On Septem­ber 20 at around 11AM, the com­plainant, (deputy sher­iff ) had gone to Bad­minton Farm to ex­e­cute an evic­tion or­der of the High Court where they had to eject the il­le­gal oc­cu­pants and de­stroy all their struc­tures,” said Mr Moyo.

The po­lice of­fi­cers at the scene were al­legedly over­whelmed and had to call for backup as the sit­u­a­tion had turned nasty.

“Po­lice at the scene called for backup from Pu­mula Po­lice Sta­tion.

“They man­aged to ar­rest the ac­cused per­sons, who were in a hired kombi.

“They were all pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied by the deputy sher­iff and po­lice of­fi­cers,” said the prose­cu­tor.

Il­le­gal set­tlers at Bad­minton Farm are not new to con­tro­versy as 400 of them last year re­sisted a High Court or­der to move out of the prop­erty, claim­ing that they had been legally re­set­tled by Chief Deli. — @andile_t­shuma

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