Law officers shun land invasion case

All law officers at the Gweru magistrates’ court last week recused themselves from prosecuting a case involving four Zanu (PF) activists charged with invading a farm belonging to central mechanical equipment department boss Davison Mhaka and resisting arrest.

According to sources, the law officers who did not specify reasons in court, feared victimisation by Zanu (PF) officials in the province if they went ahead with prosecuting their supporters.

The development resulted in Chinhoyi area prosecutor Herald Matura being roped in to represent the state in the case, which was presided over by provincial magistrate Phathekile Msipa.

Allegations levelled against the four Zanu (PF) activists – Gibson Nyere, Martha Koki, Vuleni Siziba and Togarepi Mashava were that, in 2011, they invaded Mhaka’s farm and illegally settled themselves. They then shared the land amongst themselves and erected huts before embarking on small-scale farming.

All efforts by the CMED boss to persuade them to leave the farm peacefully failed, forcing him to report the matter to police.

On January 7 this year, police visited the farm to arrest the four, but they threatened to beat the officers. They were later arrested with the help of reinforcements.

Though the Zanu activists pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful occupation of land and resisting arrest, magistrate Msipa found them guilty and sentenced them to six months in jail, suspended. Two months were set aside on condition of good behaviour for the next five years; two on the basis that they vacate the farm, and the remainder on condition that each of them pay a fine of $200.

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