Zimbabwe (Figtree) land seizure: The latest

David Conolly says his brother's farm is now being targeted as punishment for his impertinence in getting a court order against Dr. Ndhlukula's takeover of his own

Zimbabwe Republic Police Complicity in the Further Breakdown in the Rule of the Law on Centenery A Farm in the Matter Between David Conolly and Dr. R. C Ndlukhula the Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

At 1500 hrs on the 30th of July 2014 I left a copy of Zimbabwe High Court order number 1204/14 with Assisitant Inspector Shoko at the Figtree police station

This High Court order, dated 17th June 2014, stated the following: "Pending the return day, the following relief is granted:

1. The 1st Respondent (Dr. Ndhlukula) be and is hereby interdicted and barred from taking occupation of, or bringing cattle on to the piece of land, namely a farm known as Subdivision A of Centenary, measuring 1 304, 544 hectares situate in the Bulilima District

2. The 2nd Respondent (Minster of Lands and Rural Resettlement) is interdicted from taking any steps to evict the Applicant from the farm described above.

3. It is hereby declared that until this application is determined on the Return Day, the Application and all claiming occupation through it are entitled to remain in peaceful occupation of the farm, and to continue operations on the farm undisturbed.

4. In the event that the First Respondent or any party claiming occupation through him has, by the time of service of this order, taken occupation of the farm, it is ordered that the 1st Respondent or any such person shall vacate the farm immediately, and restore occupation and possession to the Applicant.

5. In the event of a party referred to in paragraph 4 above failing to vacate the farm in accordance with this order, the Deputy Sheriff is authorized and directed to evict such a party from the farm.

At 12:40 on the 1st August 2014, I received a phone call from Officer Commanding Bullilima Mangwe District DISPOL, Chief Superintendent Samuriwo informing me that he was "observing the take over" of my property by Dr. R. C. Ndhlukula , Deputy Chief Secretary in the President's Office.

At 14:05pm I met the Chief Superintendent at the gate to my Farmhouse. We introduced ourselves and I gave him the Zimbabwe High Court Order to read. He then got into his Police Vehicle and read through the High Court Order. I asked him if he had understood the Order and he assured me that he had.

Chief Superintendent Samuriwo then went to present the High Court Order to Dr. Ndhlukula. Dr. Ndhlukula refused to accept the Order.

The Chief Superintendent informed me that he was merely there to "observe proceedings."

I was shocked that Chief Superintendent, after having read the High Court order and told me he had understood it, would say such a thing. In my eyes this is a senior policeman being complicit in not insuring a valid High Court order was enforced.

I asked the Chief Superintendent how he had ended up arriving at Centenary A farm and he informed me that he had been instructed by Dr. Ndhlukula to meet him there.

On 2nd August, our pedigree Hereford herd was herded off the farm by people under the authority of the Ndhlukulas.

At 1415 on the 5th of August I was phoned by one of my workers to inform me that they were being evicted from their homes by people who were doing so under the authority of Dr Ndhlukula.

I proceeded to the Figtree police station and spoke to Inspector Tanatsho and asked him to provide us with help to stop the illegal eviction of the workers.

I spent two and half hours pleading with him whilst he waved about the High Court order that I had left at the Figtree police station saying that he had to get authority to act.

At 1815, I received a phone call from one of my workers to say they had now all been evicted from their homes with their families. Nearly 2 months after being evicted all my workers are still waiting for the police to implement the High Court order so that they can get back to their homes.

On Tuesday the 9th of September, after I had filed contempt of court papers on the 13th August, Mrs. Ndhlukula came to the farm and addressed one of my senior workers, an elderly man, in a most derogatory manner, saying that she would be taking over my brothers farm as well since I had the temerity to take her to court. I filed further papers for the urgent contempt of court application.

On Tuesday the 16th of September people under the authority of Dr. Ndhlukula stopped my workers from working in the irrigation lands and removed the irrigation pipes.

I instructed my workers to continue work and then went into the farm house. My house was immediately surrounded by Dr. Ndhlukula's workers who started shouting and chanting for me to get out. They were carrying pieces of wood, similar in size to pick handles and were acting in a very threatening manner.

My workers came to my rescue and I was able to leave the house through the back door.

Realising that the situation was extremely volatile, I proceeded with my workers to the Figtree police station arriving there at 0930 hrs.

I spoke to plain clothes Sergeant Madimba and sought his help, but again I was "stone walled."

Finally I managed to get hold Assistant Commissioner Matibiri at PGHQ in Harare at 1715

He asked me if the court order was at provincial HQ in Gwanda and I replied that it was.

He asked if there was a valid offer letter, to which I replied "not that I, or the court have seen" but "the court order is most definitely valid."

He said he would come back to me the following morning, the 17th of September.

I left the Figtree police station with my workers at 1745 after over 8 hours trying to get assistance to find that all the access roads the farm had been blocked with trees, rocks, tires etc while we were waiting for the police to respond to the lawlessness on Centenary farm.

On the 17th September I awaited Assistant Commissioner Matibiris response until mid-day and then tried to phone him. Although it had been easy to communicate and the Assistant Commissioner had answered my call the day before, it was now not possible to get the phone answered and get police to uphold the law.

Instead, on Thursday 18 September, my brother Michael Conolly on the neighbouring property was visited by a delegation escorted by Inspector Tanatsho from the Figtree police.

This delegation consisted of the District Administrator Mrs. Moyo, the Lands Officer Mr. Dodzi and 5 or 6 other people.

Mrs Moyo informed my brother that she had received a directive from Harare and he was to get off his farm.

She told him that the reason he must get off his farm was that his brother [me – David Conolly] had gone to court.

My brother said that due process surely needed to be followed and Inspector Tanatsho response was that that was not necessary.

On Friday 19 September I proceeded to the Figtree police station with a letter from my lawyers pointing out the due process that was required as our concern is that at any time my brother could be arrested since the police seemed to act with impunity when they were instructed by the Ndhlukulas, especially as they are able to ignore valid Zimbabwe High Court orders with impunity. At time of writing, without police support I can not go back to my house or my crops which have not been irrigated or harvested since the 16th of September, nor can I plant the 30,000 cabbage seedlings that were ready to start planting a week ago – and the other cabbages that were also due to be planted in future weeks.

On Monday 22nd September, my brother was forced to move 200 cattle off his farm as I could not supply him with any water for his feedlot. The expansion of his dairy is now under severe threat.

I am still awaiting a date in the High Court after urgently filing contempt of court papers against Dr. Ndhlukula on the 13th of August with the further contempt of court papers added on 9th September.

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