BULAWAYO — Beitbridge villagers who are embroiled in a land dispute with Home Affairs co-minister, Kembo Mohadi have pleaded with President Robert Mugabe to protect them from eviction.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The villagers, who are fighting with Mohadi over the ownership of part of Jopembe Block Farm, said the cabinet minister was threatening to eject them from their pieces of land, despite a High Court order legitimising their stay.
Mohadi was taken to the High court last year after he fenced off five neighbouring plots belonging to Given Mbedzi, Sorofia Ndou, Aifheli Nare, Kumbirai Ncube and Jameson Mbedzi.
Justice Lawrence Kamocha ordered Mohadi and his workers to pull down the fence they erected on the land under dispute and refrain from beating up, threatening, harassing or in any way disturbing the plot holders.
The villagers had successfully proved that they had been allocated the plots in 2003, yet Mohadi said he was given the farm in 2009 under the same land reform programme.
However, the villagers alleged that to date, Mohadi was yet to remove the fence that barricaded them from accessing their plots.
They told The Standard that they were being forced to jump the fence, risking arrest for trespassing.
Four of the villagers were arrested recently after they damaged the fence while trying to access their plots.
Even the deputy sheriff, Nkululeko Mbedzi recently failed to effect a High Court order directing Mohadi to remove the fence.
Mbedzi told The Standard that he had failed to effect the court order because there had been no police escort.
The plot holders in separate interviews appealed to both Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to rein in Mohadi.
“We have lodged several appeals at the courts and won against the minister. But still, we are failing to access our plots,” said Jameson Mbedzi, who owns plot five.
“We continue to be fenced off. We do not know what it will take for the minister to respect the courts and allow us back onto our plots. That is why we are appealing to the President and PM to intervene.”
Given Mbedzi, who owns plot one, said appeals to provincial governor, Angeline Masuku, Minister of Lands, Hebert Murerwa, and local chiefs have not yielded results.
“We face arrest for alleged trespassing if we try to visit our plots that were fenced off last year. We have been suffering ever since,” he said.
“We are not fighting the minister; all we want is to have access to our lands. We were empowered under the land reform and the President has always said we [blacks] should have rights over our land.”
Lawyer Matshobana Ncube who represented the villagers also confirmed that Mohadi was yet to comply with the court order barring him from interfering with plot owners.
Repeated efforts to obtain a comment from Mohadi were fruitless.