THE land ownership wrangle pitting Bulawayo businessman Langton Masunda and Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo took another twist this week when a deputy sheriff sent to evict the minister was thrown off the farm by the Minister of National Healing’s workers.
High Court judge, Justice Francis Bere, in 2006 ordered the deputy sheriff in Bulawayo to evict Nkomo from Lugo Ranch that was allocated to businessman Langton Masunda. The order was not immediately enforced and the High Court a fortnight ago said it must be executed.
However, when deputy Sheriff Peter Thomo Zulu arrived at the ranch on Monday to evict Nkomo, he was ordered to leave the property by the minister’s workers who were armed with a letter written by Bulawayo High Court deputy Registrar Njabulo Mabuya ordering a stay of ejection.
In the letter, Mabuya said the deputy sheriff should not evict Nkomo as he had filed an urgent application with the High Court to stop the action.
Lawyers told the Zimbabwe Independent that the power to stop the eviction rested with a High Court judge, not Mabuya.
The writ of execution passed by Justice Bere for the eviction of Nkomo reads: “Now therefore you are required and directed to eject the said John Landa Nkomo and all persons claiming through him, his goods, and possessions from and out of all occupation and possession whatsoever of the said ground and/or premises and to leave the same, to the end that the said Langton Masunda may peaceably enter into and possess the same, and for so doing this shall be your warrant.”
The land wrangle between Nkomo and Masunda is over Jijima Lodge that is on the ranch, which is situated in the Gwayi Conservancy and has been raging in the courts for the past five years.
The case has been brought before several judges who have given different verdicts. The judges include Judge President Rita Makarau, Justice Bere and Justice Bhunu.
The judgements were either in favour of Nkomo or Masunda.
Nkomo was allocated Lugo Ranch whereas Masunda was allocated Volunteer Farms 47, 48 and 49, both located in the Gwayi Conservancy in Matabeleland North.
The land under dispute used to be owned by one farmer prior to the land reform exercise and the boundaries of the two farms were not clearly defined at the time of allocation of the land.
The dispute between Nkomo and Masunda over the lodge nearly turned fatal two months ago when Masunda’s brother was shot five times by security officers employed by Nkomo.
The security officer, Eddie Sigoge, was charged with attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm and was granted bail when he appeared at the Bulawayo magistrates’ court.
BY LOUGHTY DUBE