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70 Gokwe families rendered homeless
Blessed Mhlanga, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
September 08, 2012

More than 70 families, who illegally occupied Farm 27 in Chemagora area in Midlands province eight years ago, were last week evicted by armed police who razed some of their huts to the ground.

The families are now camped by the roadside and their children have since stopped attending school.

Village headman, Webster Madobi, who was also part of the evictees, said the people were evicted only a month after they voted Zanu-PF into power.

The elections, won by President Robert Mugabe, were held on July 31.

“We feel used because these politicians came here soliciting for our votes and even had a polling station on this farm but now we are being evicted,” he said.

Madobi said he had moved with his people onto the farm following pronouncements by Mugabe that all Zimbabweans should have access to land.

“Nobody gave us this land, we moved in with our families and settled here after President Mugabe told us that all Zimbabweans should have land,” he continued. “This was a bush and we came here and made it our home.”

The evictions were on the strength of a November 2012, magistrates’ court order granted to farm owner, Farai Magadzire, who accused the families of illegally occupying his land.

According to papers at the Kwekwe magistrates’ courts, the villagers had resisted eviction.

“They threatened to burn the deputy sheriff’s vehicle before he was forced to retreat together with police officers who had accompanied him,” reads part of the court papers.

“The settlers jeered at them, as they went back.”

Armed police then returned and arrested 24 of the settlers, who have since appeared in court, facing trespass and contempt of court charges.

Provincial magistrate, Taurai Manwere last week found the 24 guilty of trespassing and building illegal structures on the farm.

They were each fined US$100.

John Fire Gumbo (72), an ex-political detainee, who was also evicted from the farm, said he was angry that he was rendered homeless soon after voting Zanu-PF, which championed the land reform programme into power. “We voted for Zanu-PF because they made a promise that everyone should have access to land but now we are being thrown out and forced to stay in the open like animals,” he said.

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