By Staff Reporter
A HIGH-RANKING Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) officer has made life a living hell for an elderly Murombedzi property owner whom he owes US$5 000 rent arrears and has reportedly subjected him to arbitrary arrests by police allegedly on trumped up charges while threatening further unspecified punitive action.
The top soldier, identified as Joseph Kudumba and believed to be a Brigadier-General, is reportedly involved in the nasty fight with his landlord Lucky Timothy Mubaiwa (63).
Mubaiwa has been trying to evict Kudumba from premises the latter has occupied for the past five years without paying any rentals.
The building at the centre of the dispute is popularly known as Beer Engine and is situated at Uzande business centre in Murombedzi, Zvimba.
It was constructed in 1998 comprising a supermarket, nightclub, bottle store and nine booking rooms.
On Monday this week, Mubaiwa was dragged to Chinhoyi Magistrate’s Court facing charges of violating a court order barring him from interfering with Kudumba’s operations.
The matter failed to kick off after the prosecution referred it back to Murombedzi police station for further investigation.
The court order in question was granted on 25 June 2020 after the top soldier approached the courts following attempts by Mubaiwa to lock him out of the premises for failing to pay his monthly rentals, which to date have reportedly accumulated to US$5 000.
The court ordered Mubaiwa, who had also cut electricity to the building, to allow Kudumba access to the property as well as reconnect power.
Since then, the two parties have been at loggerheads and have become regular visitors to the courts of law.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com in Chinhoyi, Jeremiah Bhamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who was representing Mubaiwa, said the senior ZNA officer was abusing his authority by instructing law enforcement agents to arbitrarily arrest and harass his client on dubious charges.
“He is abusing his rank as a Brigadier in the Zimbabwe National Army to make police officers dance to his will.
“He is literally commandeering the whole police station on what to do in relation to his matter.
“Unfortunately, the manner in which this matter is progressing is making the general citizenry at large, especially in the Murombedzi and Uzande area lose confidence in the justice delivery system because we have a person who has imposed himself on the strength of being an army Brigadier onto a private citizen’s property, refuses to pay rent, refuses to vacate and forces the police to dance to his will,” said Bhamu.
Police officers from Murombedzi have been accused of also visiting the premises regularly and allegedly harassing Mubaiwa at Kudumba’s behest.
Added Bhamu, “This is why l am saying we have an unfortunate situation where this army Brigadier is abusing his position in the army to commandeer a whole police force. Unfortunately, the whole police force is pandering to his whims.”
The defence lawyer said there was a pending High Court case (HC663/19) in which Kudumba is challenging his eviction for refusal or failure to pay rent.
Bhamu said the latest move by the army boss to cause Mubaiwa’s arrest for allegedly disconnecting electricity at the premises was designed to frustrate the latter from pursuing his (Mubaiwa) difficult client’s eviction through the superior court.
The matter was this week set down for 14 May 2021 before Justice Jester Charewa for a pre-trial conference.
Kudumba is not new to controversy.
He has been linked to the questionable deployment of AK47-wielding soldiers into a conservancy in Mwenezi where his junior officers allegedly wreaked havoc and damaged property.