EASTERN NEWS | Farm workers sue police


HARARE - Workers at a farm outside Rusape are suing the police for alleged theft of property and abuse during an eviction raid.

Government has since reversed the eviction, resulting in Lesbury Farm being returned to Darreyn Smart after he had been evicted from the farm in June last year, along with his employees.

On his return, Smart had found the family’s house stripped of furniture and much of his farm equipment and supplies stolen.

Seventy-four of his workers have now turned the heat on police, claiming between $7 000 and $10 000 in their individual capacities for the loss of property and abuse they alleged to have suffered at the hands of the law enforcement agents during the eviction.

The total claim is coming up to about $710 000.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, through Rusape lawyers — Leonard Chigadza and Taurai Khupe — is representing the farm workers.

Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu, commissioner-general Godwin Matanga, one inspector Nyakuedzwa and the officer in charge of Rusape are cited as first, second, third and fourth respondents on all the 74 summons.

The farm workers claim that on June 19, 2017, several police officers violently evicted them along with Smart’s family, as well as anyone they found on the farm.

They contend that at all times, the police officers were acting under command and within the scope of their employment, adding that they were assaulted with baton sticks in full view of members of the public, before the police went on to destroy and steal household goods and furniture worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The claim is expected to cover destroyed and damaged goods; loss of income; pain and suffering or degrading treatment or psychological torture; as well as medical expenses.

Notice of intention to sue was entered on October 27, 2017.

Police have entered their notice to defend the lawsuit.


Quest Motors singing the blues

MUTARE-BASED motor vehicles assembler, Quest Motors is still in the woods despite the dawn of a new era in the southern African country.

The Eastern News can report that the company risks going under unless there is meaningful uptake of its products, especially from the domestic market.

What is not helping matters is that government, which is the biggest buyer of vehicles on the local market, still prefers imports instead of buying from local assembly plants.

Quest’s operations manager, Carl Fernandez, told the Eastern News that they were still to receive orders from the new administration, which has clocked 100 days in office.

Major government institutions such as ministries, the police, army and a string of State-owned enterprises, can easily turn around the situation if they buy their vehicles locally.

Because Quest is unable to launch itself in the southern region because it lacks the competitive edge to do so, the company is really in trouble.

Fernandez said Quest was also concerned that it has not been able to recruit younger employees to succeed those who are ageing due to depressed demand.

As a result, it has been holding on to key staff who are past their retirement age in a desperate effort to prevent losing its 55-year human capital investment.

“This is a huge concern. We are trying to hold on but no one lasts forever,” Fernandez said.

The Mutare manufacturing plant has been running since 1960 as Australian Motor Corporation.

It has to date assembled over 100 000 vehicles of 170 different models, including passenger vehicles, trucks and tractors.

The plant can build 10 different models per day, while it can produce 35 vehicles at full capacity with a full staff complement of 4 500.

It currently employs 200 workers.

Quest currently holds the franchise for Japanese manufacturers Mitsubishi, Toyota, Suzuki, Chinese makes such as Foton, JMC and Chery as well as for German car maker, BMW.

Critics have often said Quest can easily ride out of the storm if it makes its vehicles affordable.

But Quest director, Talik Adam, said this week increased production figures would lower the unit production cost, adding they are “trying to get as much through the factory as possible so that the unit production cost can go down”.

Minister of State for Manicaland Monica Mutsvangwa admitted recently that the vehicle manufacturer was in troubled waters and needed the country’s economy to be fixed to prevent it from going under.

“I had an opportunity to tour two companies, including Quest Motors. I’m telling you, they are operating at two percent and yet when you look around, our children are out of school and there is so much unemployment all over… What can we do? The answers are with you and not with leadership,” Mutsvangwa moaned.


Unrepentant thief caged

AFTER escaping his first full trial with a $50 fine, a man from Mutare has been caged for a combined 36 months after he returned to the dock facing two theft charges.

Tatenda Janike of Mutare, was given custodial sentences of 24 and 18 months, respectively, by magistrate Perseverance Makala, for the two counts, of which 18 months were suspended.

He was being charged with unlawful entry as defined by section 131 (1) as read with section 131 (2)(e) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9:23 on both counts.

In the first count, Janike broke into a house on January 9 this year and stole an eight kg gas cylinder, KDF 6500E diesel generator, 32-inch Samsung Plasma TV and a DSTV decoder, all valued at $1 868.

On February 25 this year, he sneaked into Janet Mureza’s unlocked bedroom and made off with household goods that included a monarch, bedspread, three pots, a dish, a petticoat, jean short, trousers, a purse and other small items, amounting to $115.

Janike committed the offences in the Zimunya area and everything was recovered.

Brighton Shamhuyarira was prosecuting.

Janike returned to the dock after he had initially gotten away with a $50 fine when he first faced his full trial.

Makala had initially fined Janike $50 and suspended four months on condition of good behaviour for stealing $300 worth of car batteries.

They were all recovered.



Soccer team keeps youth out of trouble

LIFE in the high density suburb of Sakubva is tough even for hard-core criminals.

Ravaged by poverty, keeping body and soul together in this suburb is no mean achievement.

The primary instinct underpinning survival tends to override the need to veer off the ethical and moral compass.

Incentives to follow rules, by their nature, normally do not address the immediate survival needs.

Thus crime becomes too tempting.

A number of youths have therefore gotten themselves enmeshed in drug dealing and drug abuse in pursuit of sensual pleasure, which some studies argue fuels prostitution, especially among the unemployed youths.

For many children in this suburb, adulthood marks the beginning of a turbulent journey they, given a choice, would rather pass. Because some end up having limited choices due to circumstances beyond their control, crime often becomes the ultimate pathway to earning a living.

For those who get hooked onto drugs, the burden of addiction that comes with it wears them down and many have succumbed to diseases in their youth.

But there are two men who are doing their best to give young boys in Sakubva and its hinterland a fighting chance out of vice through football.

Timothy “Sicho” Masachi, along with City of Mutare hygiene official, Stephen Chinhengo, formed a junior soccer club back in 2002 — originally named Deportivo La Sakubva, before it was renamed La Sakubva — which is keeping young boys who are passionate about football out of crime.

Here, several young players spend hours every week in grids, trying to master the art of football in the hope that they will break into top professional leagues one day.

It’s a prospect that is not so alien when you are a part of La Sakubva as there are many alumni the youths can relate with.

Some of La Sakubva’s finest products are doing well in the ABSA Premier Soccer League in South Africa where Washington Arubi, Willard Katsande and Onismus Bhasera are household names.

These went through the local premier soccer league, and the youngsters who are following their progress know lady luck can also smile at them if they take their lessons seriously and remain focused.

Other notable names who have also graced the local premiership are FC Platinum’s Liberty Chakoroma, former Dynamos player Tichaona Mabvura, Talent Manetsi and Agrippa Murimba who both dazzled at Monomotapa.

There is also Trymore Nyamadzawo who made his name at Harare City; former top flight league army side Buffalo had goalkeeper Chengetai Tandadzai, Philip Thembani, Farai Banda and the recently amputated Kudzai Mwaramba.

The list is endless.

Now, La Sakubva has won promotion into the Eastern Region Division One league.

Sadly, the club is uncertain of its participation due to financial challenges.

“We are trying to raise money for us to participate in the Eastern Region Division One but, as you know, we are not in a sound financial position and we are looking for corporate partners,” said Masachi, who doubles up as the club’s coach.

Masachi has a colourful coaching career. He has previously deputised Moses Chunga and Luke Masomere at Buffaloes during its spell in the premiership.

An experienced but humble man, it has been Masachi and co-owners’ humanity that has stopped them from pursuing riches at the expense of the social side of things.

For many years, their players have been poached by big clubs who would threaten to drop them from their line-ups when pressured to pay their signing off fees.

“We would have seen the boys struggle through life as orphans with nothing but their talent to take them out of poverty and would not countenance standing in their way. We thus backed off and allow them to pursue their talents but their new clubs would then make money selling them off to other clubs,” Masachi says.

There have been a few exceptions.

In what they consider to be their best deal ever, Lancashire Steel paid half of the agreed fee for Arubi.

In yet another deal, they got an old kit from Douglas Warriors in exchange for Andrew Tshuma who was later to be a household name at Hwange.

But this has not stopped them from continuing their work with children.

“We hope that Zifa will one day offer institutions such as ours protection so that we can properly invest in developing players. But for now we find our greatest satisfaction from realising how we are touching the lives of so many young people,” said Masachi.

“We would have worked hard for that and we would have succeeded but the problem would be with clubs that grab these players for nothing,” he added.

But why change the name from Deportivo La Sakubva to La Sakubva?

“People were beginning to think that we were Spanish La Liga side Depotivo La Coruna’s project so we had to drop the Derportivo part so that we could have our own identity,” Masachi says.

Masachi’s junior teams have always cleaned the board in local competitions.

He has also been engaged by local schools, bringing them silverware in national competitions.

He won the Eric Rosen Tournament in 2004 with Sakubva High 1 and another with Sakubva Primary in 2010.

While La Sakubva was supposed to be a rich club after developing hundreds of players over the past 16 years, its directors — Masachi, Chinhengo, Clap Murato and now James Mahala — have hardly made enough to get by.

Chinhengo is to date still supplementing his income by working as a police constabulary.

He reminisces that while they had initially set out to make profit out of the project, they eventually agreed to use the club as an empowerment tool for young players to earn an honest living.

Murato believes that although their club is arguably the most successful grassroots football initiative, their impact on the lives of children is far greater.

“This is to a greater extent a safe place for children in Sakubva. There is no way of measuring how many lives we may have saved even to those children who did not make it to become professional footballers...Some of these youngsters are orphans but most of them would be coming from poor backgrounds and when they secure either a work contract or a football contract you wouldn’t want to stand in their way,” Murato said.

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