Hundreds in court over sabhuku land deals

16 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Hundreds in court over sabhuku land deals Piercing of corporate veil has been extended to the situation where a single economic entity owns all the shares in its subsidiaries and controls every aspect of their operations

The ManicaPost


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The blitz on land barons and illegal settlements in both rural and urban areas reached fever pitch last week with the arrest of Manicaland Provincial Civic Registrar, village heads in Mutasa and over 300 villagers in Chipinge District.

Hundreds of illegal settlers were also rounded up in Burma Valley and Odzi areas of Mutare District.

The Manica Post understands that those in court sold State or communal land, while those facing eviction illegally occupied State land and settled in vleis, waterways, mountains, plantations and pastures.

This has led to overcrowding in some settlements, indiscriminate cutting down of trees, soil erosion and siltation of water bodies in communal and resettlement areas.

Traditional leaders, councillors and village committees have been accused of abusing their positions to illegally allocate land and sell it.

Government on Wednesday expressed concern over people who are settling illegally on urban and rural agricultural State land, as well as those who are illegally selling the land.

In a joint statement, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka; Local Government and Public Works Minister, Honourable Winston Chitando; Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Acting Minister, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi and National Housing and Social Amenities Minister, Honourable Daniel Garwe, said in terms of the Land Commission Act and the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act, it is illegal to occupy rural State land without lawful authority in the form of an offer letter, a permit or a lease.

They added that it is also illegal for any person who is not authorised by central or local Government to sell, lease or offer a lease with an option to purchase State land or council land.

“Government’s position has been consistently clear that there has to be an orderly and legal settlement on the land. However, it has been noted with concern that there are people who are settling themselves illegally on urban land as well as rural agricultural State land and others who are illegally selling the same,” reads the statement.

National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also issued a statement on Tuesday, warning people against paying for any land allocations before verifying its authenticity.

“Operation no To Land Barons and Illegal Settlements on Land started in January and is progressing well. As of February 12, 2024, a total of 3 775 suspects had been arrested, with 985 convictions being made by the courts, while 3 360 are still pending trial.

“The police reiterates that the public should verify the status of any land before being settled or made to pay for the purported allocation or development,” reads the statement.

This follows the high profile arrest of Manicaland Provincial Civil Registrar, Joyce Munamati, on charges of fraud as defined in Section 136 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.

She was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAAC) for allegedly receiving US$15 000 from a local businessman, Calvin Ziki, after selling a piece of land allocated to her during the Land Reform programme in 2012.

Munamati appeared before Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe, who granted her US$500 bail on condition that she reports to ZAAC offices fortnightly, reside at her given address until the matter is finalised and does not interfere with the complainant and witnesses.

She will be back in the dock on February 29.

Prosecutor, Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira said between April and November 2023, Munamati hatched a plan to defraud Ziki of his money by selling him a piece of State land offered to her by the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development through an offer latter.

She allegedly knew that such land cannot be sold to anyone.

A village head from Mutasa, Machel Sadziwa, also appeared in court and was remanded out of custody to March 4 on US$50 bail for parcelling out land near Osborne Dam.

The long arm of the law also caught up with over 300 villagers from Munyokowere area in Chipangayi, Chipinge, who were on Monday dragged to court for allegedly settling on land reserved for urban expansion.

They appeared before Chipinge magistrate, Mr Alfred Chinembiri, charged with illegal occupation or use of State Land as defined in Section 7(1) as read with Section 7(2) of the Communal Land Act (Chapter 20:04).

However, their trial failed to kick off after Mr Chinembiri stated that the charges levelled against the villagers were not clear.

The court ruled that the villagers will appear by way of summons.

Chipinge Rural District Council has another pending land boundary dispute with villagers in Munyokowere Village at the High Court.

Last week, Kasirai Chibuwe, Cleopas Chirandu, Tandiwe Chigugudlo, Liberty Mazuza, Dumisani Mathabuka, Irvine Chitore, Phelex Mlema, of Mutorwa Village under Chief Musikavanhu, Agnes Mutisi, Lasweight Chindireki, Shylene Musarara and Pamuri Tsokorosai of Panganai Village under Chief Mutema appeared before Mr Chinembiri who convicted them on their own plea of guilty.

He slapped them with a wholly suspended four months jail term on condition of good behaviour, and fined each of them US$100.

They were also ordered to refrain from committing similar offences as they would attract hasher penalty.

He also ordered them to vacate the illegally occupied stands by May 8, 2024.

Loveness Muzhanje, Agness Mugidho, Kasirai Muchinjiko, Grace Masaka, Esther Maphosa, Garikai Matsiyana, Learnmore Masaka, Precious Madhuku, Lucia Chipanga, Collen Dhliwayo and Magret Makoni of Vermont Farm in Chipinge District also pleaded guilty of illegally occupying undesignated land.

The same goes for Silas Sithole, Mudiwa Sithole, Clemence Chimedza, Takesure Maphosa, Saul Maphosa, Regina Marwisa, Tendai Mawacha, Talent Maphosa, Tatenda Sigauke and Grace Mhlanga of Ravenswood Farm in Chipinge.

Agness Mutisi, Lasweight Chindireki, Shylene Musarara and Pamuri Tsokorosai of Panganai Village in Chipinge allegedly constructed tuck-shops and conducted their business at Muzhanje area, which is communal land under Chipinge Rural District Council.

The offences were committed in 2007.

The suspects constructed the tuck-shops without acquiring the land development permits from Chipinge RDC which regulates the development of council land.

In Chimanimani, some people illegally settled on timber plantations, thereby leading to massive environmental degradation due to wanton destruction of trees on nearly 5 000 hectares.

Some of the squatters moved out, while some stayed put arguing that they had nowhere to go.

In Burma Valley, illegal settlers are causing massive land degradation at Chikubvu and surrounding areas. Their action has resulted in the siltation of Manyera Dam.


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