HARARE – High Court Judge Felistus Chatukuta has ordered the police to stop demolitions and eviction of several families occupying Arnold Farm in Mazowe.
Chatukuta granted the order by consent yesterday after the occupants — through their lawyer Donsa Nkomo from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) — approached the court on an urgent basis, seeking to bar the police and Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora from evicting them from the farm.
In the application, applicants were Nyatsambo Katsamudanga, Innocent Dube, Rosemary Masiyiwa, Maliyana Mateo, Livingstone Musanhu, Makoore Leornard, Chenjerai Murambiza, Phanuel Chingoriwo and Arnold Farm Residents Association, while respondents were Mombeshora, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo.
“Lands minister and the police have been ordered to stay away from the farm and the residents have been given permanent reprieve,” Nkomo said after the ruling was handed down in Chatukuta’s chambers.
“The residents can only be evicted through a court order or when they have been given alternative offer letters,” he added.
According to the farm occupants, they have been staying at the farm for 17 years.
Heavily armed police officers and Lands ministry officials demolished the villagers’ homes on Wednesday without a court order.
The residents argued that this was in defiance of an order handed down by the High Court on January 14, 2015, barring them from demolishing homes or evicting them.
The villagers further argued that they will suffer irreparable harm if the High Court does not intervene to save them, as they have been rendered homeless and their children’s education has been jeopardised by the respondents’ unlawful actions.
According to court papers, the residents claimed that their peaceful possession of their pieces of land and property has been disturbed, adding that their crops are at risk of being destroyed by animals.
They further said their belongings and household properties, which are in the open right now, are at risk of irreparable damage, adding that they are also face a health risk since their shelter has been destroyed and they have nowhere to go.
The villagers claimed in their papers that they took occupation of the farm during the government’s Land Reform Programme around year 2000.
They argued that the arbitrary eviction contravened their rights provided for in the Constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy, administrative justice and the right to property.