3 775 illegal settlers arrested for occupying gazetted land in ZRP’s ‘Operation No Land Barons and Illegal Settlements’

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By James Muonwa

A TOTAL of 3 775 suspects have so far been arrested for illegally occupying State land where they had either built homesteads or set up commercial ventures.

In its latest update, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) reports that a blitz codenamed ‘Operation No Land Barons and Illegal Settlements’ which started in January this year had by February 12 netted 3 775 suspects while 985 had been convicted.

A total of 3 360 cases are pending trial across the country.

ZRP national spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said notable arrests were effected in Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Matebeleland South and North.

“In Masvingo, 28 suspects were accounted for in Tokwane-Ngundu resettlement. The suspects had illegally settled on grazing land without the authority of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.

“In Mashonaland West province, police in Karoi arrested 26 suspects who were occupying grazing land and distributing gazetted land to their relatives at Lazy Five farm. Investigations carried out unearthed that the suspects were paying US$15 or maize equivalent, to plot holders,” said Nyathi.

In Matebeleland South province, 123 suspects were nabbed at the Engadeni resettlement area, Gwanda after allocating themselves pieces of land without lawful authority.

A land baron, Thulani Nzima (53) of Matebeleland North was arrested by police for illegally allocating six residential stands to desperate home seekers in exchange for cash amounting to US$300 and ZAR 4 000. The incidents occurred in Siganda, Nyamandhlovu.

Prospective property buyers are encouraged to verify the status of any land before being settled or made to pay for the purported allocation or development.

ZRP is appealing to the public to report all land barons to the nearest police station.