In a highly controversial move, magistrate Chakanyuka on Friday ruled in favor of the eviction of the families, who are being kicked off the land by Ruston Ngandu. Ngandu, who has argued that he was given the Foothills farm land as part of the government’s land resettlement scheme. He alleges that the families are disrupting activities on the farm. But lawyers representing the families said in their argument that Foothills farm was not part of the resettlement scheme and it is meant to be a township with space for a school, clinic and commercial ground for shops. The defense further argued that Ngandu did not produce any legal documents in the form of title deeds or valid offer letter to prove that the area in question was allocated to him by the government.
Rights groups, Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe), on Monday said the ruling has been met with shock and disapproval, saying in a statement that “it has been slammed as lacking merit and biased even under the scrutiny of a layman’s eye.”
The group explained that an eye witness reported that magistrate Chakanyuka was seen the night before the court ruling at a local hotel in Bindura, in the company of officials linked to the planned evictions of other families in the area. This included the former mayor of Bindura Webster Bepura, who is reportedly also planning to evict at least 50 families in the area. The eyewitness reported that Chakanyuka was also in the company of notorious war veteran Comrade Sato, Mashonaland Central governor advocate Martin Dina and Acting Area Public Prosecutor Mr. Gini. ROHR said the meeting has raised fears that the ruling to evict the 26 families was a result of interference on the bench by supporters of ZANU PF Commenting on the outcome, ROHR Zimbabwe’s secretary general, Tichanzii Ganganda, said the court ruling was a smack in the face of justice and it represents the manipulation of the law by those with influence denying a fair trial to vulnerable citizens. Magistrate Chakanyuka meanwhile is set to decide on the fate of another 50 families facing eviction from Carse farm, under similar circumstances.