Soldiers resisting eviction from a farm in Goromonzi last week manhandled, before detaining the Sheriff Mr Macduff Madega who intended to serve them a High Court order to leave the farm.
Mr Madega had gone to Sussexdale Farm in the company of farm owner Ms Cynthia Maadza and her lawyer, Advocate Taona Sibanda, to serve the soldiers with an eviction order.Ms Maadza is a security officer at the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
A Colonel Nyamangora allegedly refused to accept service of the order, saying he did not take orders from the court but from higher offices.Adv Sibanda said matters got to a head as they were leaving the farm.
“We returned to our cars and as we were about to leave, I had my client in my car and the Sheriff’s car was behind,” Adv Sibanda narrated their ordeal.
Three soldiers, he said, ran to his car window and ordered him to get out of the car because they wanted to search him and the car and access his phones to make sure that he had not taken any pictures of their activities.He said he refused to give them access to his personal gadgets, which contained confidential information between him and his client.
“That is when one of the soldiers threatened to kill me saying “tokugura musoro” (we will
behead you) as he tried to open the car door,” he said.The lawyer said they left the Sheriff’s car surrounded by soldiers who harassed, intimidated and detained him for a long time saying they suspected that the trio was taking pictures of their “unlawful loot”.
“This is a serious disregard of our judiciary and a violation of the rule of law, which poses a threat to the security of innocent citizens,” said Adv Sibanda. “No one is above the law and no one has authority to defy a court order. If lawyers can be wantonly threatened with death and harm in the execution of their duties, if judges’ decisions are recklessly disobeyed and if the Sheriff’s esteemed office is so belittled, then who is safe?”
Adv Sibanda, who failed to get assistance from Chinamhora Police Station, has since reported the matter to the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights where he is a member. Judicial Service Commission (JSC) deputy secretary Mr Walter Chikwana confirmed receiving a verbal report from the Sheriff on the incident.
“We have requested the Sheriff to submit a report of the incident,” said Mr Chikwana. “We are waiting for the report before we take an appropriate action.”
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Alphios Makotore professed ignorance of the incident adding he was not in a position to comment.
On Wednesday last week, the High Court granted Ms Maadza an eviction order against Commander of the Artillery Brigade Cantonment at Alphidas Barracks, Brigadier-General Stanley Mangena from Sussexdale Farm, in Domboshava.The artillery commander had allegedly led soldiers under his command in the invasion of the farm, where they reportedly took an assortment of farming equipment in a land wrangle.
Brig-Gen Mangena was cited as respondent in the matter along with ZNA Commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Ms Purity Chikangaise of the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Lands and Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya.
A Mr Chingwere of the Attorney General’s Office appeared and acted for the army. His arguments were dismissed by Justice Hungwe.
Mr Chingwere initially attempted to argue that he had not taken instruction from his clients, but Justice Hungwe ordered him to address the judge on the law – whether or not it was right for anyone to resort to self-help and to put the law into their own hands.
Mr Chingwere reluctantly conceded that such actions were unlawful and had to be immediately stopped.
In her application, Ms Maadza accused Brig-Gen Mangena of conniving with the former owner of the farm, Markham Paul McKinnon to intimidate and force her out of the farm.
She stated in her papers that on Tuesday last week, three army officers clad in their camouflage uniform descended on her farm demanding access to the warehouses where farm equipment is kept.
The soldiers, she said, threatened violence and said they had authority from Brig-Gen Mangena and the army commander to take over and remove the farm equipment and all materials in the warehouses. Herald