MASVINGO — Thirty-six defiant war veterans, who were part of a larger group of 250 Zanu PF supporters who invaded Chikore Farm that had been claimed by the late Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge, have been booted off the property following the arrest of some of their colleagues last week.
The war veterans and Zanu PF supporters occupied the farm, located a few kilometres south of Masvingo town at the height of the chaotic and often violent land invasions in 2000.
Mudenge had laid claim to the farm that previously belonged to a former commercial white farmer, leading to a raging court battle with the war veterans and Zanu PF members.
The war veterans and party members were accused of defying the Gazetted Lands Act.
In 2010, Masvingo magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso ruled in favour of Mudenge leading to an order issued to the farmers to vacate the farm, but they refused to move claiming they were being evicted “for the benefit of a powerful politician”, according to their lawyer Martin Mureri of Matutu and Kwirira law firm.
Last week, 21 war veterans, who had defied the eviction order, were rounded up by the police, according to correspondence between the cops and the Mudenge family lawyers Saratoga Makausi Law Chambers dated December 11 2013.
“We refer to your minute dated 4 December 2013 . . . On December 3 2013 a team of police officers went to the farm and arrested 21 illegal occupants,” part of the letter signed by Masvingo Rural officer-in-charge Chief Inspector E Ndlovu, reads.
Ndlovu said remnants of the defiant war veterans were facing a charge of contempt of court for failure to recognise the eviction order granted by Mudzongachiso.
“The accused persons were taken to court the following day. Fifteen are facing a charge of contempt of court while the other six were facing a charge of criminal trespass. The matter is, however, not finalised and is still pending at the courts,” Ndlovu wrote.