Zimbabwean Police torch land invaders’ huts

More than 41 families in Southhall farm, 20 kilometers east of Masvingo, were left homeless early this week after police razed their huts to the ground, as sporadic farm invasions continued in the provice.

Southall farm, near Mutimurefu prison, is at the centre of controversy
after a city businessman and losing ZANU PF Mavingo urban aspirant,
Josby Ommar, is said to be eying it.

While no comment could be obtained from Ommar, disgruntled villagers,
who occupied the farm in 2000, said they were surprised to see
gun-totting police officers ordering them out of their huts, eight
years after they settled there.

"At around ten in the morning on Sunday, some armed police officers
ordered us to take all our things out of the houses, before they
torched everything…as we speak, we have been sleeping in the open
since Sunday,"

said one settler.

Some of the settlers who tried to resist eviction were taken to
Masvingo Central police station where they languished in cells for
three days, according to the source.

The police were accusing the villagers of unlawfully occupying the
farm, although no notice were given to them tom leave the farm. A lands
officer, whose name could not be established, only addressed them a day
before the eviction.

"One lands officer who notified us of the eviction a day before accused
us of unlawfully occupying the farm, yet we have been here at the
height of the farm invasions," added the source.

Officer Commanding Masvingo province, Assistant Commissioner Mekia
Tanyanyiwa said the settlers’ stay at Southall farm was illegal.

"The settlers, especially those on the Eastern side, were illegal. They settled themselves unlawfully," he said.

Asked on where he expected the villagers, who were already preparing
land for this farming season, would go, Tanyanyiwa said; "They should
go back to where they came from."

However, Masvingo rural District Administrator (DA), James Mazvidza said the government would resettle the villagers.

"The farmers were staying at the farm temporarily, and I am sure they
were told when they entered the farm. They will be given a permanent
place to stay," Mazvidza said.

But, ironically, the officials here were on record as saying that land for resetlement had run out in the province.

Provincial war veterans chairman, Isiah KMuzenda, who is also the
secretary for lands in Zanu PF party, could not be reached to comment
on the matter.

It is believed that Muzenda and other war veterans instructed the police to evict the settlers.

Harare Tribune

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