FIVE people were yesterday arrested on allegations of destroying a house belonging to a newly resettled Ruwa farmer on Christmas Day. The five accused are in a land dispute with the resettled farmer. They are also facing assault charges and are still in custody assisting police with investigations.
Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tadius Chibanda confirmed the arrests. "I confirm that five people have been arrested in connection with the assault and malicious damage to property and investigations are still in progress.
"The assault case is being dealt with by Goromonzi police while the other one is at Epworth," he said.
Although the details were still sketchy by yesterday, sources close to the cases said the victim, Mrs Mary Sakupwanya, was given an offer letter to occupy a plot at Nil-Desperandum Farm in Ruwa in 2002 under the land reform programme. In 2008 it is alleged that one Stuart Chisango was also given an offer letter to occupy the same plot.
This resulted in a wrangle between the two, resulting in Chisango getting an eviction order from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement to leave the plot with a promise to be allocated another plot but he resisted.
The two farmers have been co-existing at the plot while officials from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement are dealing with their matter. Sometime in November, Mrs Sakupwanya built a six-roomed house at the plot where some of her farm workers are staying.
This angered Chisango and his partner identified as Stanley Kagonye. According to police the two hired more than 20 people and went to the plot on Christmas Day at around 8pm.
It is reported that they destroyed Mrs Sakupwanya's house and some of the workers fled.
A report was made to the police.
"Police and some of the complainant's workers tried to arrest the suspects but the workers were assaulted during the process," Insp Chibanda said.
Police managed to arrest five people including Chisango and Kagonye.
They are detained at Goromonzi Police Station for the assault case and would soon be transferred to Epworth Police Station for the malicious damage to property case.
The case comes after more than 70 hectares of maize belonging to about 55 A1 farmers were last week destroyed by a farmer in Mazowe in a land dispute. Mr Peep Mattison of Tavydale Farm, about 18 kilometres north of Nyabira, destroyed the crops and planted his tobacco on the 995-hectare farm.
The A1 farmers derive legitimacy of occupancy from offer letters signed by the district administrator. Mr Mattison, on the other hand, has a letter from the Governor and Resident Minister's Office for Mashonaland Central Province Advocate Martin Dinha saying the farm was covered under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.