More than 20 villagers who lost property at Arnold Farm in Mazowe in Mashonaland Central province through illegal evictions instigated by government and former First Lady Grace Mugabe have won more than US$30 000 in compensation for the destruction of their homesteads and property.
On 20 March 2017, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers raided and forcibly evicted some villagers residing at Arnold Farm also known as Manzou Farm and demolished their homesteads including destroying their crop produce of maize, groundnuts and beans.
ZRP officers also destroyed their fertilizers, wardrobes, fridges, asbestos, iron sheets, wheelbarrows, television and radio sets, solar panels, doors, clothes, kitchen utensils and other household goods and materials.
During the demolition exercise, ZRP officers indicated that the eviction was meant to pave way for government to establish a national monument and to allow Mugabe to expand her business venture in Mazowe.
This prompted the villagers, who sought the services of Idirashe Chikomba of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to file summons at Bindura Civil Magistrates Court on 9 November 2017 seeking various orders for payment of damages for the destruction of their homesteads and property.
During trial, where Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Inspector Mwisai, who served as the Officer In Charge at Mazowe Police Station then, were cited as respondents, Chikomba argued that in destroying their homesteads and evicting them, the ZRP officers violated the villagers’ fundamental rights including their right to property, guaranteed under section 71 of the Constitution and their right to freedom from arbitrary eviction provided under Section 74 of the Constitution.
Chikomba argued that the malicious damage to the villagers’ property was in violation of Section 219 of the Constitution, which provides that the country’s Police Service is responsible for protecting and securing the lives and property of people and upholding the Constitution.
The human rights lawyer also argued that together with their children, the villagers suffered great humiliation, shock, trauma as a result of the unlawful destruction of their homesteads and property and endured emotional suffering and physical hardship after being rendered homeless and left exposed to rain.
On Friday 15 July 2022, Bindura Magistrate Miriam Banda held ZRP officers, who were acting in the scope of discharging their official duties, liable for unlawful conduct in demolishing the Arnold Farm villagers’ homestead and property.
Magistrate Banda awarded damages totalling US$30 864 to the 22 villagers with each individual getting varying amounts and the highest amount being US$2 000 and the lowest being US$200.
Some of the villagers include Tendai Chinzenza, Yanai Matema, Samson Kadungure, Tambudzai Masambo, Givemore Tsaratse, Paradzai Chibundu, Nathaniel Zirota, Fanuel Chingoriwo, Dennyboy Chaparadza, Ranganai Chibundu, Fungai Chikuno, Tapson Gutuza, Takadayi Shamhu, Witness Harunopinda, Phillip Sauti, Ennie Musizwa, Ottilia Jack, Chrispen Chitsenza, Tsigirai Nyahuma, Chaison Size, Chenai Muchererwa and Chipo Reuben.