Court orders chief to return seized beasts, sofas

HARARE - A traditional chief in the habit of confiscating villagers’ property under the guise of court fines has been ordered by a Chegutu magistrate to return the property of two of his subjects.

Ngoni Mutsvangwa, a Mhondoro granny, and another villager Raban Kondo dragged Chief Chiketa Kanengoni Mashayamombe of Mhondoro to court after he seized their cattle and sofas for crimes allegedly committed by the pair’s children.

Mashayamombe grabbed Kondo’s set of sofas for a crime allegedly committed by his son Artwell against one Bravio Nyakuenda.

The chief then seized three beasts from 63-year-old Ngoni Mutsvangwa as fine for a crime allegedly committed by her 37-year-old son Brian Rukarwa.

Magistrate Toendepi Zhou on Tuesday gave Mashayamombe 14 days to return the beasts.

In both cases Zhou ruled that Mashayamombe’s traditional court had misdirected itself by attaching the property since the two were not involved in the alleged crimes.

“Chief Mashayamombe’s court made a mistake by attaching Mutsvangwa’s cattle because when a judgment is given against one party, one cannot attach the property of say the father or any of his relatives when that individual is an adult,” Zhou while delivering ruling in Mutsvangwa’s case.

“The attached cattle must thus be returned to the rightful owner within 14 days from today,” reads part of the magistrate’s order.

Speaking to the Daily News after the judgment, Mutsvangwa said she was delighted that she could now have her beasts back.

“I am happy that justice has finally prevailed because it was wrong in the first place to have my property confiscated for an offence that I never committed,” Mutsvangwa said.

Mutsvangwa however expressed doubt that Mashayamombe will respect the court order, saying she had information to the effect that the cattle had already been sold.

“I only hope he will respect the judgment because we hear that the cattle were sold the day they were confiscated,” she said. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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