ZANU PF youth leaders who led the invasion of a Bulawayo City Council-owned game reserve have been jailed two years and fined $4 000 as compensation to the local authority.
Western Commonage magistrate Tancy Chipuma-Dube found Tariro Magovanyika (34) and Mark Muunganirwa (35) guilty of criminal trespass and illegally cutting firewood under the Forest Act at Mazwi Game Reserve, before condemning the two to prison.
Magovanyika and Muunganirwa had pleaded not guilty to both counts.
The two had been out on bail following their arrest in July and were remanded in custody on Friday during their routine court appearance pending yesterday’s judgment.
The magistrate sentenced the two to an effective one year in prison each and ordered each of them to pay a total of $3 600 before June 2015 as compensation to the Mazwi Nature Reserve Game Park.
Dube also sentenced them to nine months in prison for contravening the Forestry Act, but three months were suspended on condition that they do not commit a similar crime in the next five years.
Magovanyika and Munganirwa were represented by Russell Dzete of Ndove, Museta Legal Practitioners, while Sibekithemba Dube prosecuted.
The two led the occupation of the Mazwi Game Reserve, parcelled pieces of land measuring 250m² by 500m² to hundreds who had flocked to the place and defied calls from the Zanu PF provincial leadership to vacate the property.
They went on to lead the invasions of other farms on the outskirts of Bulawayo, including one owned by Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, claiming that the farms were under-utilised while thousands were landless.