28 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Offer Letter Extinguishes Farmer's Exhumation Bid

GOVERNMENT has granted the widow of liberation war hero Captain Eleck Matotoba an offer letter for Ndiri Farm in Mazowe. This has put to rest the exhumation application that had been filed at the High Court by the former farm owner.

Mr Louis Greyling, who was embroiled in a land ownership row with the late Cpt Matotoba, had filed an urgent chamber application seeking to exhume the remains of the provincial hero buried at the disputed farm.

Mr Greyling, through his lawyer Mr Edmore Jori of Wintertons law firm, was also seeking to evict Ms Pamela Matotoba and her family from the farm.

But on Tuesday, he made a U-turn and dropped the case after learning that Government had issued Ms Matotoba with an offer letter confirming her as the legitimate beneficiary of the land under the Land Reform Programme.

The withdrawal was made before Justice Chinembiri Bhunu.

Harare lawyer Ms Rumbidzai Gasa of Gasa Nyamadzawo and Associates who was representing Ms Matotoba and Mashonaland Central Governor Martin Dinha confirmed the latest development.

"The applicant has filed a notice of withdrawal after learning that Ms Matotoba had been issued with an offer letter confirming her as the legitimate owner of the land," she said.

Mr Jori could not be reached as his secretary said he was too busy.

Last week Justice Bhunu noted that both parties had no offer letter and that there was need for the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement to file its papers stating the correct beneficiary.

Before the papers were filed, Ms Matotoba got an offer letter from the ministry.

Advocate Dinha, who chairs the Mashonaland Central lands committee, said Mr Greyling should file his application for allocation of alternative land.

"The Matotoba family won the dispute but we are considering offering Mr Greyling alternative land. Like any other Zimbabwean he will apply for land and we undertake to consider his application and allocate him alternative land in the province.

"Our land programme has no discrimination and we will assist him in getting alternative land," said Adv Dinha.

Capt Matotoba died while still embroiled in a dispute over the farm with Mr Greyling.

He died early this month in a road accident along the Mazowe-Harare Road and was buried at the farm after the intervention of the Mashonaland Central provincial leadership.

The body, according to Mr Greyling, was buried 10 metres away from the farmhouse.

Mr Greyling, who does not hold any offer letter, stated in the application that after the compulsory acquisition of the farm by Government, he was allowed to remain on the farm pending consideration of his application for an offer letter.

The authorities, he said, in allowing him to continue operating on the farm, took into consideration his co-operation with the Government in implementing equitable redistribution of land.

Mr Greyling said he was in peaceful possession of the piece of land until June 10 when Mrs Matotoba, with the assistance of Governor Dinha and Mazowe district administrator Mrs Nyakudya buried Capt Matotoba at the farm.

Governor Dinha, in his opposing affidavit, said the Matotoba family had authority to occupy the farm and that the offer letter had already been prepared.

Governor Dinha said facts on the ground indicated that the Greyling family vacated the farm in April this year after winding up their operations to give way to the Matotoba family.

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