The Mazowe evictions saga spilled to the High Court yesterday where the villagers under eviction are contesting the police move while seeking the arrest of two ministers and the police chief for contempt of court.
Justice Erica Ndewere who took the case in his chambers yesterday postponed the matter to tomorrow afternoon.
The villagers’ lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara yesterday said Justice Ndewere postponed the matter after the respondents, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Land and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora and Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri failed to submit their heads of arguments by 2pm yesterday.
The villagers are under siege from heavily armed police details that are evicting them from Manzou Estate to allegedly pave way for the establishment of a multi-million-dollar wildlife sanctuary by the First Lady.
The violent evictions where police reportedly beat up the villagers and burnt down their homes and property continued yesterday.
The villagers are seeking to stop the evictions and demolitions of their homes while they have also made another application seeking the arrest of Mohadi, Mombeshora and Chihuri over contempt of court.
The on-going evictions are taking place in spite of a valid court order giving the villagers the right to stay at the property until government allocates them alternative pieces of land.
Yesterday, armed police officers continued with their destruction of homes at Anold and Spenenken Farms as they reportedly prepare to evict another 600 families from Cetic Farms 1 to 4. Anold, Spenenken and Cetic 1 to 4 make up Manzou Estate.
The Standard yesterday witnessed police pulling down structures and setting them ablaze while families whose homes were destroyed since Wednesday were seen still milling around the scene of the destruction with nowhere to go.
They said they have been sleeping in the open with their children and property since mid-last week. Their food and other provisions had been destroyed by rains.
The distraught families said yesterday they had been given until January 15 to leave the farms or face unknown consequences by the police.
Six villagers – Leonard Mukoore, Samson Jekera, Chenjerai Murambiso, Livingstone Musamhi, Tapiwa Dhasisi and Samuel Chingariwo – have approached the High Court seeking the arrest of the trio for demolishing their property against the protection of a court order issues last year when attempts to evict the villagers intensified.
“We reported this matter and it is being attended to, last year we had the same problem and the court ordered that no one should demolish our structures until we have been legally relocated to other lands with valid offer letters,” one of the residents Aspinas Makufa told The Standardyesterday.”We do not resist eviction, but they should allocate land to us.
Yesterday it rained the whole night while we slept in the open after they destroyed out homes,” lamented one teary old lady at the farm.The villagers want the High Court to order Mohadi, Chihuri and Mombeshora to stop government officials, agents, police officers or anyone acting on their instructions from demolishing and evicting the villagers from Anold Farm.
The lawyers said should Mohadi, Chihuri and Mombeshora fail to stop government agents from ending the harassment of the villagers, the Sheriff of Zimbabwe must deploy Zimbabwe Republic Police officers to Mohadi, Mombeshora and Chihuri and imprison them at Harare Central Prison until such a time they purge their contempt.
According to the Mazowe families, Mohadi, Chihuri and Mombeshora’s conduct is reprehensible and a risk to the administration of justice while the deliberate disobedience of a court order by public officials undermines the authority and integrity of the judiciary.
Meanwhile, the villagers have dismissed as outright lies state media reports where Mashonaland Central provincial affairs minister Martin Dinha claimed they were not genuine villagers but gold panners from the neighbouring Chiweshe area.
Dinha also said only 48 families were being evicted.An angry villager responded: “We moved in the area in 2000, being led by the late Vitalis Zvinavashe.
We have been there since then. Dinha came to address us in 2012 and he said he was misled that we were gold panners and said he would forward our concerns to government to avail us land,” said the villager yesterday.“We are surprised by Dinha’s blantant lies.
He knows our problem since 2000. He confessed to us that they used us to get the land from the white farmer, Kenny, who was running a cattle project and said government would give us alternative land.
Now he evicts us and calls us gold panners without giving us land.”He added.”
If there were evicting only 48 families, I am sure that could have been done in a single day. But they have been destroying countless homes since Wednesday and yet he claims there are only 48 families. Dinha should be ashamed of his lies.
“When they removed some families that had come here well after the land reform programme, we refused to move until we got offer letters.
They dumped our fellow villagers at Lazy farm, which belongs to our MP, Fortune Chasi, intending to give us an impression that we have been allocated land to lure us to leave so that they would cordon off the area to block us from coming back when Chasi reclaimed his farm.”Grace Mugabe has vast business interests in Mazowe.
She owns large swaths of fertile land on several farms in the green belt which is also rich in precious minerals.