Zimbabwe: Chiyangwa Wins Court Case Against Villagers

THIRTY illegal settlers on Old Citrus farm in Chinhoyi owned by businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa yesterday had their urgent application seeking to stop the businessman from evicting them rejected after the High Court said they should not have been on the land in the first place.

The farm was gazetted in accordance with the law and allocated to Dr Chiyangwa at the height of land reform. In terms of Section 3 of the Gazeted Lands and Consequential Provisions Act, it is a criminal offence to remain in occupation on gazetted land 90 days after the gazetted date.

The villagers have been resisting eviction from the farm. In a bid to protect their occupation of the farm the villagers fronted by Ms Abigail Dzapasi approached the High Court seeking an order to block Dr Chiyangwa from evicting them and the police interdicted from arresting them for resisting eviction.

But Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, sitting in his chambers, threw out the application for lacking legal merit saying the court could not sanitise the illegal occupation of the farm. He could not grant an order which undermined a statute.

“The applicants were not supposed to be in occupation of the land in the first place as it falls under the category of gazetted lands,” said Justice Kwenda.

The judge also ruled that he could not grant an order which takes away the powers of the police as these are enshrined in the Constitution.

Through lawyers Method Ndlovu and Keith Magorimbo of Mutamangira and Associates, Dr Chiyangwa opposed the application. The lawyers argued that the land was gazetted and in terms of the law once the land is gazetted anyone in occupation of that land should vacate forthwith.

It was also argued that the relief sought could not be granted as the villagers were seeking to block a lawful process and that the High Court could not be used to stop the police from carrying out their lawful mandate.

The settlers legal counsel could not stand the barrage of legal shortcomings in his clients’ application forcing him to concede that they had no right to occupy the property.

In their application the settlers claimed that the Dr Chiyangwa backed by police had been harassing them and displacing them from their homes.

Hey also claimed their properties have been damaged and some were injured after violence erupted between them and police.

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