Arnold Farm residents in Mazowe, whose homes were demolished by the law enforcement agents reportedly to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe, yesterday breathed a sigh of relief after High Court judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta, ruled in their favour.
Justice Chatukuta ordered the police to immediately stop demolishing and evicting the families from the farm.
She granted the order by consent after the victims, through their lawyer from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Donsa Nkomo, had filed an urgent chamber application seeking to bar the police and Lands minister, Douglas Mombeshora, from carrying out the evictions.
In the application, the applicants were cited as Nyatsambo Katsamudanga, Innocent Dube, Rosemary Masiyiwa, Maliyana Mateo, Livingstone Musanhu, Makoore Leonard, Chenjerai Murambiza, Phanuel Chingoriwo and Arnold Farm Residents’ Association, while Mombeshora, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo were cited as respondents.
After the hearing of the matter in the judge’s chambers Nkomo said: “There was an order by consent. The Minister of Lands and the police have been ordered away from the farm and the residents have been given permanent reprieve. The residents can only be evicted through a court order or when they have been given alternative offer letters.”
In their court papers, the victims said they had been staying at the farm for the past 17 years. They said on Wednesday, heavily-armed police officers and officials from the Lands ministry pounced on them and started demolishing their homes without a court order.
The villagers said the actions by the police was a total disregard of a High Court order granted on January 14, 2015, which barred the force from demolishing their homes or evicting them from the farm.
They also argued that the arbitrary eviction by the law enforcement agents, contravened their rights as provided for in the Constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy, administrative justice and property.
The villagers then pleaded with the court, arguing they would suffer irreparable harm if the court did not intervene and save them from the police actions since they had been rendered homeless and their children’s education jeopardised.
The victims also said their undisturbed and peaceful possession of their pieces of land and property had been disturbed, while their crops were at the risk of being destroyed by animals, adding their property, which had been left in the open, was at risk of suffering irreparable damage.-AMH