Ongoing illegal evictions of farmers at Inyathi

At 5.15 pm on the 25th May 2010 six truckloads of armed police arrived at Goff and Shirley Carbutts Oscardale Farm in the Inyathi district of Matabeleland North.

They surrounded the homestead and proceeded to arrest Goff for being in illegal occupation of state land in spite of him having a very recent High Court order which confirmed the Administrative Courts earlier ruling that he may reside on the remaining portion of his property; the rest having been given up for resettlement in line with earlier government policy. After relieving his wife of all the house keys, Shirley and elderly parents were given a short while to pack up some possessions and were then evicted from their home at gunpoint. Goff, who has recently had a kidney transplant, was taken to the police station in Inyathi where he has had to sleep on the concrete floor of the police cells for the last two nights. He is to be charged under the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act for being in occupation of state land without an offer letter, permit or lease.

The convoy of police then proceeded to the vacant home of Ed Grenfell-Dexter of Riverside and Riverbank farms. There, on some pretext, they convinced his watchman to lure Mr. Dexter out from Bulawayo where he now lives. When he arrived he too was arrested and was also detained in Inyathi police cells pending his being charged for the same offence in spite of him no longer being resident on the farm.

The police then went to Mike Huckles Felton farm where at about 9.00 pm they breached the security fence and broke in to the house where staff reside. They gathered all of the staff together and told them they had one hour to vacate the farm. Mike Huckle is resident in South Africa and in terms of another Administrative Court order has leased out the remaining portion of his farm which the Court ordered he may keep.

The following morning after their first night in jail, Advocate Tim Cherry went to Inyathi to try and arrange for the release of the two farmers. He was kept waiting for some four hours whilst the Officer-in-Charge repeatedly telephoned code 04 (Harare) numbers.

On the same day 26th May Mrs. Carbutt, after being checked to ensure she was not in possession of a camera, was allowed to regain access to the house to pack the rest of her possessions at gunpoint. She was not allowed to take the curtains which the alleged beneficiary named Ncube of the CIO/police required be left behind. He also insisted the garden hosepipe remain as it was irrigation equipment. There is no law in Zimbabwe which requires movables of any sort to be left behind in this manner.

She found the pantry had been locked during the night and asked for the keys to open the door so as to remove her deep freezer. The police refused to part with them and denied that they had the keys. They told her that should she break into the pantry to remove her deep possessions they would arrest her for damaging state property. Allegedly both Dexter and Carbutt are to be taken to Bulawayo today 27th May to appear in the city Magistrates Court. How the Magistrate is to override the ruling of the superior High Court remains to be seen.



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