Zimbabwean farmer Dave Conolly picked up by police for “contempt of court”

In the wake of a surprise ruling by the Bulawayo High Court on March 13, 2015 that a top Mugabe aide, Dr Ray Ndhlukula, was in contempt of court for evicting Matabeleland South farmer Dave Conolly from Centenary farm, Conolly was today taken by the police to Plumtree Police Station.

Dave Conolly
Dave Conolly

According to the Plumtree police, who drove to Bulawayo to fetch him, Conolly is himself in contempt of court, despite the findings of High Court judge Maxwell Takuva.

Takuva sentenced Dr Ndhlukula to 90 days in prison for defying an earlier court order which barred him from forcing Conolly and his workers off the farm and taking the property for himself.

In his ruling, Takuva said it should be noted that contempt of court was a serious infraction in that it struck at the heart of the rule of law and consequently those found liable must be sufficiently punished.

Ndhlukula was instructed to remove all of his livestock and movable assets from Centenary farm within 48 hours of service of the order.

Furthermore, Takuva instructed the second respondent, the officer commanding police, Matabeleland South, to provide an escort and any physical assistance necessary to the sheriff during service and execution of the order.

Ndhlukula’s 90-day prison sentence was suspended on condition that he complied fully with the order – and the provisional order in case number HC1204/14 within 14 days.

Ironically, Ndhlukula is already in possession of two other farms in Matabeleland South, Wilfred Hope farm in Marula and Vlakfontein, also known as Subdivision 2 of Marula Block.

Ndhlukula is Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and the cabinet. He is also in charge of the government’s ZimAsset programme for food and food security, announced in December 2013.

On August 5, 2014 Ndhlukula’s thugs evicted Conolly’s workers from the farm, rendering them destitute, despite a High Court order to block their evictions. Conolly was then blocked from returning to his farm and irrigating or reaping the 300,000 onion plants he still had in the ground.

Josephat Tshuma, past President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and past chairman of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, has accompanied Conolly to the Plumtree Police Station. He has expressed anger at the high-handed and unacceptable action of the Plumtree police.

“In the lawless, upside down world of justice in Zimbabwe, summoning a farmer to a police station for contempt of court when a ruling has been handed down in his favour – and on a Friday afternoon when the courts are closed – is typical of the modus operandi of the partisan police force,” said Ben Freeth, spokesperson for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch.

Post published in: Human Rights

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