By Mary Taruvinga
THE High Court has dismissed an urgent chamber application by 30 land invaders of Old Citrus Farm in Chinhoyi seeking to stop businessman, Philip Chiyangwa from evicting.
Justice Pisirayi Kwenda ruled the 30 settlers were aware the farm was gazetted and were supposed to leave immediately after the notice was issued.
The judge also accused the residents of approaching the court with “dirty hands” adding that lawlessness should be tolerated.
Chiyangwa has been involved in a land battle with the settlers over the ownership of the farm.
He won a similar case last year where the illegal settlers were evicted, but the other 30 continued occupying the far.
The latest court case had resulted in the settlers suing Chiyangwa and accusing him of evicting them illegally.
The 30 settlers had filed an urgent chamber application against the Zanu PF politician seeking to interdict him from disturbing their occupation.
They also accused Chiyangwa of bribing cops to intimidate them and stated they were now staying in the mountains fearing victimisation.
However, Judge Kwenda ruled the dwellers came to court with “dirty hands”.
“Applicants, in this case, are aware that the land they occupy was duly acquired by the state and gazetted. The gazetting and acquisition are within their knowledge,” the judge ruled.
“They do not have to wait to be evicted. The law requires them to give up occupation voluntarily. In my view an order of this court protecting, by way of an interdict, unlawful conduct would have the effect of putting the applicants above the law. The application can, therefore, not succeed.”
“Similarly, no one may take occupation or use of gazetted land without lawful authority.”
The judge added anyone who remained in occupation of the farm would be committing a crime.
Chiyangwa had been cited as the first respondent.
Also cited as respondents were the officer-in-charge of Chinhoyi Rural Police Station, the officer-in-charge Chinhoyi CID offices, officer commanding Mashonaland West, and Lands Minister Anxious Masuka.
In her founding affidavit on behalf of the other settlers, Abigail Dzapasi told the court after a confrontation with the police and Chiyangwa on September 24 this year, they ended up living in the mountains in fear of the politician.
She said Chiyangwa sent his manager, Tafadzwa Kwaramba, who was in the company of some police officers, and they attacked and intimidated them before stealing their cash and other valuables.
The next day, those arrested were taken to court in Chinhoyi where they were released on bail of $2 000 each for contravening the Lands Act.
However, Chiyangwa said the settlers had been convicted for invading his land.
He also challenged the urgent chamber accusing the group of taking the law into their hands and refusing to vacate despite a government notice.
The court also heard, he won a similar case last year, but the settlers remained on the land damaging his property.