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Published On: Thu, Jun 18th, 2015

Resettled farmers seek court protection against army brutality

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GUTU: RESETTLED farmers whose homesteads and crops were destroyed when soldiers recently raided Chomufuli Farm have filed a court application seeking an order stopping the army from carrying out future invasions.

First respondent ... Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi

First respondent … Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi

The 22 farmers filed the court interdict at the Gutu Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. The case was set down for hearing on July 18.

Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi is cited as the first respondent while an unnamed commander of the raiding battalion is the second respondent.

Through their lawyer Philip Shumba of Metendi Legal practitioners, the farmers said last week’s raid was aimed at forcing them out of a farm they were resettled on at the height of the land reform programme in 2000.

The farmers want the courts to stop the soldiers from 4:2 Infantry Battalion army barracks at Mpandawana Growth Point from further terrorising them.

They allege that the army wants to take over the plots and are arguing that the soldiers had no court order to enforce the eviction.

According to the application, the soldiers stormed the farm on June 11 and burnt down farmers’ homes and crops which were ready for harvesting.

“As the mayhem ensued, most of the applicants ran into the bush, leaving behind their household property in the open and livestock unattended,” the court application reads.

“So tense was the scenario that the soldiers would mimic a battle zone by taking positions on the ground as if they were in a war situation.

“The sight of the guns sent applicants and their families into panic and many are still scattered in all directions in the bush where some are still camped to date for fear of their lives,” reads the application.

The farmers added that approaching the courts was their last option after exhausting all other channels of communication without success.

 

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