Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A FARMER was allegedly brutally murdered by illegal settlers at his farm after he had allegedly shot one of them dead while attempting to evict them from his property in Chemagora, Gokwe South yesterday.
In an interview, Mr Dumapi Tutami who is the Chemagora Small Scale Commercial Farmers’ Union chairperson confirmed the deaths of the farm owner Mr George Jongwe and an unidentified illegal settler.
“He had won a High Court case for the illegal invaders to be evicted from his farm. The High Court order was enforced this week on Tuesday. Evicted invaders then came back in the early hours of this morning (yesterday) and attacked him with machetes, axes. He reacted in self-defence and shot and killed one before he was himself overpowered and killed,” he said.
“Invasions of our farms are organised and there are ring leaders and land barons who benefited financially by illegally settling people here.”
He said a local traditional leader (name withheld) has been benefiting through illegally parcelling out land and they had reported him several times to the authorities to no avail.
Midlands Provincial Administrator, Mr Abiot Marongwe, confirmed the alleged murder of Mr Jongwe by illegal settlers on his farm.
He said that he was yet to get details regarding the shooting of an illegal settler.
Mr Marongwe said Mr Jongwe was attacked by the illegal settlers using machetes and axes.
“I can confirm that a farm owner in Chemagora area in Gokwe was allegedly murdered by illegal settlers he was trying to evict from his farm this morning (yesterday). I understand the farm owner had an eviction order from the High Court,” said Mr Marongwe.
He said illegal settlers started invading farms in Chemagora area around 2013.
Mr Marongwe said he had sent the District Administrator Mr Stewart Gwatiringa to investigate and compile a report on what transpired.
“I am waiting for an official report from the DA so that we know what really transpired. But all we know is a life was lost in the fight over the land in question,” he said.
Chief Njelele could not be reached for comment.
Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko referred this publication to the national police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi who was not reachable.
The illegal settlers have been illegally occupying about 54 000 hectares of black-owned farms and have been caught up in a land row which at times saw their houses being torched by the deputy sheriff after the land owners were granted eviction orders by the courts.
Government at one time earmarked 35 000 hectares of land in Chirisa Game Reserve for the resettlement of Chemagora families and other families from Gokwe South and Gokwe North.
However, chiefs in Gokwe successfully objected, demanding that their subjects should be given first priority.