Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A BULAWAYO woman who is locked in a long-standing land dispute with Shangani commercial farmer, Mr Bruce Moffat, has launched a fresh legal battle and is seeking an order directing the farmer’s eviction from the Oaklands Farm.
Mrs Sibongile Shava, in court papers, says she was allocated the farm in 2014 by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
Mrs Shava, a widow of the late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s driver, Colleen Shava, has filed summons at the Bulawayo High Court citing Mr Moffat and Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri as defendants.
Mr Moffat, grandson to Howard Unwin Moffat, Southern Rhodesia’s second Prime Minister who was in office from 1927 to 1933, has since 2014 been locked in a legal wrangle with Mrs Shava over the ownership of the farm.
Mrs Shava, who is a self-actor, said she was given an offer letter to occupy the farm in June 2014.
“On June 6, 2014, the second defendant (Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement) allocated me sub-division 2 of Oaklands Farm in Insiza district measuring 216 hectares in extent under the Model A2 scheme. I received an offer letter from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and duly accepted it. The first defendant (Mr Moffat) is in occupation of the property and has refused to vacate it on the basis that he is the lawful occupier of the land in question,” she said.
Mrs Shava said Mr Moffat has despite demand failed, refused or neglected to hand over the property without lawful cause.
She wants an order declaring her the rightful owner of the farm. In the event that the order is granted in her favour, Mrs Shava wants Mr Moffat to be evicted within five days of the ruling failure of which the Sheriff of the High Court should be directed to evict him.
She also wants Mr Moffat to pay the legal costs.
Mr Moffat is yet to respond to the summons.
In 2015, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese granted Mr Moffat a provisional order to remain at the Shangani farm pending the finalisation of his court application for review.
The judge also set aside the ruling by the Small Claims Court following an urgent chamber application filed by Mr Moffat at the High Court challenging his eviction from the farm.
Mr Moffat lost the case in March 2015 at the Small Claims Court and was subsequently ordered to vacate Oaklands Farm by former Bulawayo magistrate Mr Singandu Jele.
The farmer, through his lawyers, Webb, Low and Barry, took his case to the High Court seeking a provisional order to block the Messenger of Court from executing the Small Claims order pending a review of the case.
Mr Moffat argued that despite the acquisition of his 2,100-hectare farm by the Government in 2003, he has been given permission to retain 788 hectares of Subdivision 2 of Oaklands Farm. The farm was subdivided into three sections.
He argued that the Small Claims Court had no jurisdiction to handle the dispute because of the value of the land. — @mashnets