CLOSE to a thousand residents offered residential stands in Karoi’s Chiedza Farm under the government’s housing scheme, Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle programme face eviction after the High Court ruled that they were illegal settlers.
High Court judge, Justice Davison Moses Foroma ruled that government and Karoi Town Council invaded the farm, owned by Dorothy Mashangaidze, the wife of the late Mistopha.
In his ruling of March 23, Justice Foroma ordered Karoi Town Council, listed as the first defendant, Zimta Housing Co-operative, Cheuka Housing Co-operative and Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister, all listed as second, third and fourth defendants, respectively, to vacate the farm within 14 days.
“First, second and third defendants and those claiming the right to occupy deceased’s farm through the said defendants be and are, hereby, ordered to vacate Chiedza Farm, Lot 1 of Claudia Farm, registered in the name of the late Mistopha Paradzayi Mashandudze, which the sherriff of this court is ordered to eject them and restore the vacant possession of the plaintiff,” part of Justice Foroma’s order reads.
Karoi Town Council, Zimta and Cheuka housing co-operatives have also been asked to pay the plaintiff’s costs.
The three have, however, filed a notice of appeal against the ruling, arguing the court erred in concluding they had not concluded the occupation of Chiedza Farm and that it was necessary for an expropriation order to be obtained prior to the parties agreeing to reasonable compensation of the farm.
But according to the ruling, there was no evidence which shows that Karoi Town Council bought the land. Evidence tendered in court showed that government did not expropriate the farm for urban development.
“The Ministry of Lands in the Government of Zimbabwe did not acquire the said land from the rural settlement or urban development as the farm’s deed of transfer remains in the late MN Mashandudze’s name to date,” the ruling read.
“At any rate, such acquisitions, if any, were not the basis of defendants’ defence to the plaintiff’s claim in terms of the plea filed by them.”
Justice Foroma also said Karoi Town Council applied to the Local Government ministry to expropriate the farm into urban use, but the letter was not even responded to and, therefore, all those who were settled by government and council on the farm remained illegal settlers.
“The law is very clear. A person who occupies land without the express or tacit consent of the person in charge (person with legal authority to give permission to a person to enter or recede upon the land in question) or without any right in law to do so is an unlawful occupant.”
He said the plaintiff had demonstrated that the defendants were illegal occupants on her farm.
According to Dorothy, no one approached her to purchase the farm. She was surprised to see council clearing land and offering stands to residents.
This was after then former Mashonaland West provincial governor Nelson Samkange held a ground-breaking ceremony on the land commissioning the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle project to resettled thousands people rendered homeless by Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 without her consent.
The applicant approached council, which offered to secure another farm for her, but all was not done. newsday