Ruling in Chiredzi land seizure case delayed till March

The group of Chiredzi farmers accused of “occupying state land illegally” will have to wait until March for a ruling in their case, after the magistrate delayed his decision at a hearing on Tuesday.

SW Radio Africa had reported earlier this week that the magistrate failed to turn up on Monday. That information was provided by a trusted source involved in the case, who has since informed us that it was the defence lawyer who failed to show up on 16 January, causing a one-day delay.

South African Peter Henning, Zimbabwean Robert Style, Swiss national Theresa Warth and Mauritians Benoit Lagesse and Benoit Fayd’herbe refused to vacate their houses on the farms after government seized all their land and agricultural equipment without compensation.

The authorities claim the farm seizures were part of the so-called land redistribution programme. But it was actually top officials within ZANU-PF illegally grabbing prime land through violence and intimidation.

On Tuesday the court concluded the trial of Mauritian farmer, Ben Fayd’herbe, and a ruling is expected on 27 January. The other cases were remanded to 14 March, further delaying trials that have been dragging on in the courts for about three years.

One of the farmers said they are expecting a 90-day eviction order, which Fayd’herbe can challenge in a higher court. The delays have become a familiar ZANU-PF tactic, as they keep everyone tied up in legal proceedings while prolonging their grip on power in Zimbabwe.

Foreign nationals are also supposed to be protected by bilateral property agreements signed by Zimbabwe, but are not being honored. Zim authorities also dismissed a ruling by the regional human rights tribunal in Namibia, which said the land redistribution was racially discriminatory and constitutionally illegal. – SW Radio Africa News

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