Sixty villagers arrested for settling along Mutirikwi Dam basin freed on bail

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By Staff Reporter

MORE than 60 villagers arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged for allegedly contravening the Water Act by reportedly settling along the banks of Mutirikwi Dam, in Masvingo province have been freed on bail.

The villagers, the court heard, had been residing there for over 20 years.

They were freed on ZW$100 000 each.

The 66 villagers, who include some aged over 70 years, were represented by Frank Chirairo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

They were arrested on Monday 22 January 2024 by ZRP officers, who charged them with settling within a prohibited dam basin as defined in section 56(20) of the Water Act.

Prosecutors alleged that the 66 villagers unlawfully held, used or occupied Lake Mutirikwi basin, which is a prohibited dam basin.

The complainant in the matter is the state represented by Trust Mvurume of Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

The state charged that the 60 villagers have been unlawfully occupying some pieces of land under the Lake Mutirikwi Dam basin since 2000 with no legal right to do so.