By Claris Madhuku| Today the 12th of February 2024, more than 400 villagers from Munyokowere village appeared before Chipinge Magistrates Court on allegations of staying on a gazetted land under Regional, Town and Country Planning Act chapter 29.12. Munyokowere village is ward 5 of Chipinge Rural District Council under Chief Mutema.
Chipinge Magistrates court has ordered the villagers to go back home on free bail on the basis that the charges preferred against them were not clear and neither were they properly placed before the court.
It defeats the mind how those taking these vilagers to court expect more than 400 people to fit in a courtroom.
This is now clear harassment of inocent women and the elderly, after more than 300 villagers from Mahachi village under Chief Musikavanhu were again brought to court on Friday the 9th of February 2024 under similar disorganized and chaotic situations.
Villagers of Kondo in ward 5 and Maunganidze in ward 1 of Chipinge RDC are expected again in court this week to answer to these similar charges.While the virdict will be the same, there seems to be no lessons learnt by both the police and the local authorities.
The over 400 villagers from Munyokowere were summoned on Friday the 10th of February 2024 by Chipangayi ZRP to appear in court over these frivolous charges.
It is public knowledge that these villagers from over 16 villages in Chipinge are natives and indigenous people as referenced in Munyokowere, Mahachi, Kondo and Maunganidze villages
The Platform for Youth and Community Development Trust has closely worked with reputable institutions of higher learning like the University of Western Cape ( Institute of Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies) togetjer with national based civic organisations like Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights ( ZLHR) , Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA) , Zimbabse Lands and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) as well as the Alliance of Community Based Organisations – ACBOs to highlight and protect the rights of the affected villagers in Chipinge.
The affected Mahachi and Munyokowere villagers are being represented by Professor Lovemore Madhuku who instructed Advocate Tarisai Tazvitya.