By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
THE fight pitting businessman-cum-politician Phillip Chiyangwa and families which illegally settled at his Old Citrus farm situated on the edges of Chinhoyi town, has escalated with the police instructing its junior officers to arrest the settlers.
Chiyangwa, a property mogul recently lodged a complaint against the police for not taking decisive action to evict the illegal occupants from the farm.
However, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Tuesday responded to Chiyangwa in a letter leaked to NewZimbabwe.com, stating the illegal settlers will be arrested to restore normalcy at the farm.
The farm has in recent months been turned into a war zone resulting in the death of a security guard manning the property.
In the letter dated 26 January 2021, Chief Staff Officer (Crime) Commissioner A. Moyo wrote; “Reference is being made to your letter of complaint dated 02 December 2020, in connection with the above subject (Urgent action by police on murder, illegal land sales and violation of court order at Old Citrus).
“Whilst you are making efforts to obtain an Eviction Order from the court to remove the illegal settlers, the Officer Commanding Police Mashonaland West (Commissioner Priscilla Makotose) had (siç) been directed to ensure that all the people who are violating the law at the farm are arrested.”
Chiyangwa, who is also Zvimba South MP, was last year interdicted by the High Court against evicting 20 farmers who settled themselves at the farm whose controversial ownership has also spilled into the courts.
In recent months, the farm has been the epicentre of violent clashes, and at one time the illegal settlers stormed the property and disarmed two security guards of their firearms, before kidnapping and heavily assaulting them.
The illegal settlers, numbering over 100 families, were evicted after they allocated themselves pieces of land.
The farm measuring 3,477,46 hectares is also at the centre of an endless court battle between Chiyangwa and Chinhoyi Municipality.
In another twist to the ownership saga, Justice Benjamin Chikowero on 9 November 2020, issued an order barring Chiyangwa from interfering with the 20 farmers who argue the business tycoon is not the bona-fide owner of the farm.
The families approached the courts after they were kicked-off the farm by the messenger of court with help of the police and suspected Zanu PF functionaries who unleashed violence, forcing the illegal occupants to scurry for cover in nearby mountains where some are still living.
Their makeshift homes were also set on fire rendering scores homeless.
However, the defiant settlers, who have unleashed periodic militia-style violence at the farm, have vowed to make life hell for Chiyangwa, his farm labourers and guards, who are targeted by the marauding gangs.
The settlers are living at the nearby Shooting Range hill.
A 2005 presidential proclamation nullified a prior offer letter given to Chiyangwa, before the farm, along seven others, was transferred to Chinhoyi Municipality for urban expansion.
The other farms are; Olympus Estates, Sangwe, St Ives, Strathcona, North Umzari, Sub A of Sinioa Drift and Subdivion A of Sangwe.
Interestingly, Chiyangwa still holds title to the farm, but Chinhoyi Municipality is fighting to get ownership of the land for incorporation into its proposed masterplan.