Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
FORTY villagers in Umguza district appeared in court yesterday for illegally occupying State land at Heany Junction Farm in Matabeleland North.
Masibonge Mthombeni (27), Ndumiso Tshuma (29), Tobias Baili (23), Alois Sibanda (22), Meluleki Dlamini (26), Joseph Zuze (42), Sikhangele Magutshwa (25), Jericho Ncube (53), Silingiwe Sibanda (31), Ntombizodwa Mhlanga (29), Regius Sibanda (35), Wiseman Siziba (32), Edward Nyandoro (57), Mkhululi Ndlovu (28), Michael Ncube (39), Lungani Mafu (34), Henry Ncube (28), Monica Rwatiringa (45), Winnie Ndebele (54), Sithulisiwe Mangena (39), Perseverance Chiminya (19), Siduduzile Nhliziyo (33), Peter Mhlophe (42), Bishop Ngwenya (53), Grey Dube (80), Nkosilomusa Tshuma (32), Phathisani Ncube (23), Nkosilathi Moyo (320 Precious Mlala (32), Mzomkhulu Nkomo (37), Juta Thomas Ncube (79), Melusi Mbambo (29), Lolly Mpofu (39), Winnie Dube (59), Mgcini Mahlabathi (36), Yenzani Mahlabathi (33), Festo Dube (42),Bless Ncube (20), Temba Sedeya (39) and Never Khumalo (42) appeared before Bulawayo provincial magistrate Ms Gladmore Mushove facing charges of occupying gazetted land without lawful authority in contravention of section 3 (1) of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act.
They were remanded out of custody to January 25 for commencement of trial.
Prosecuting, Ms Memory Takaedza said between January 2013 and November 9 this year, the accused persons allegedly unlawfully occupied gazetted land at Heany Junction Farm in Umguza District, Matabeleland North province.
The court heard that between November 6 and 7 this year, officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, police and members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) carried out an operation at Heany Junction Farm during which they ordered the accused persons to vacate the property.
“On November 9, police, ZNA and officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement went to Heany Junction Farm where they found the accused persons still occupying the farm and they were rounded up leading to their arrest,” said Ms Takaedza.
Ms Sibonginkosi Moyo, who is employed by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, as a cartographer is the complainant in the matter.
Meanwhile, four Zanu-PF youths who are also part of the illegal occupiers of Heany Junction Farm, have taken Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, the Prosecutor-General Mr Ray Goba and the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri and his Home Affairs and Culture counterpart Cde Obert Mpofu to court challenging their eviction from the property.
Ms Mhlanga, Mr Ngwenya, Mr Nqobani Ndlovu and Mr Zephania Dube through their lawyers Pundu and Company, filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court, seeking an order interdicting the respondents from evicting them from the farm and demolishing their homesteads without a court order. They also want an order blocking the respondents from interfering with their families at the farm.
The four Zanu-PF youths are part of the 385 families that illegally occupied Heany Junction Farm in January 2013.
The matter will be heard today before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi.