Court orders army off farm

HARARE - The High Court has ordered army officials not to interfere with activities at Sussexdale Farm in Goromonzi, following claims that gun-wielding soldiers visited the property, threatening to evict its current owner, Cynthia Maadza.

The ruling was handed down after Maadza, through her lawyer Taona Sibanda, approached the High Court on an urgent basis challenging the army officials’ acts.

In the application, Maadza cited retired brigadier-general Stanley Mangena, army commander Philip Valerio Sibanda, Purity Chikangaise, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora and Attorney-General Prince Machaya, as respondents.

“ . . . pending determination of this matter on the return date, applicants are granted a rule nisi as follows, the first to third respondents (Mangena, Sibanda and Chikangaise) and all those acting or purporting to act through them refrain from attending at the applicant’s farm for the purposes of removing any of the farm equipment,” High Court judge Charles Hungwe said, further ordering them to return any of the property that they took if any.

The court further said that in the event that the deputy sheriff faced resistance in enforcing the order, it is supposed to enlist the services of the police.

The farm was initially owned by white former farmer Geoffrey Kelly McKinnon. In her court papers, Maadza claims Mangena is a personal friend to the former farm owner.

“ . . . on October 11, 2016, at or around 4:30pm, three army officials clad in their camouflaged uniform descended upon my farm demanding access to the warehouses where farm equipment is safely kept, including stock for the imminent season.

“The three, two of whom were wielding guns met two of my senior farm workers in charge of the warehouses and demanded access . . . , saying they had authority from the 1st and 2nd respondent (Mangena and Sibanda) to take over and remove the farm equipment and all material in the warehouses,” she said.

She also said that two of the gun-wielding army officials further threatened her farm workers with eviction, assault as they hovered around the warehouse.

“Before leaving the farm, the three soldiers above threatened to bring a platoon at any time on October 12, 2016 and that they wanted to find the warehouses open so that they can take whatever they want,” Maadza said.

Maadza said prior to the visit by the soldiers, Chikangaise wrote to the messenger of court seeking to enter the warehouse and obtain farming equipment and property, based on a power of attorney from McKinnon’s son Markham.

“I aver further that the power of attorney is inconsequential and gave the 3rd respondent rights which her principal did not possess both at law and in fact. It is both wrong and unlawful to seek to upset my statutory rights of occupation and use of the farm premised on such,” she said.

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