Shock As Elderly, Youths Targeted In Zim’s Renewed Evictions And Displacements
24 February 2024
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By A Correspondent| Several elderly people, who are in their advanced age are among dozens of villagers, who are being prosecuted in Gwanda in Matabeleland South province, on charges of illegally occupying state land without lawful authority.

The 180 villagers, who include a nonagenarian, octogenarian, septuagenarians, sexagenarians and youths, were apprehended by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers on 7 February 2024 during a dragnet arrest and summarily charged with occupying gazetted land without lawful authority as defined in Section 3(1)(4) as read with Section 5 of the Gazetted Land Consequential Provisions.

Prosecutors alleged that the 180 villagers, who reside in Nyandeni community in Gwanda North in Matabeleland South province, unlawfully held, used or occupied land at Hollins Block Estate in Gwanda, which is gazetted land and without lawful authority.

Upon their arrest on 7 February 2024, the 180 villagers endured two nights in police detention and were only set free on 9 February 2024 after prosecutors declined to prosecute them when their lawyers Jabulani Mhlanga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Mitchell Chigova of Mabhikwa and Partners Legal Practitioners, challenged the manner in which their arrest had been effected as falling short of the provisions of section 50 of the Constitution and the lack of documentary evidence, which informed the arrests as they were merely done to investigate than to prosecute.

The villagers were then summoned to appear at Gwanda Magistrates Court on 23 February 2024, where prosecutors filed an application seeking to formally place them on remand.

However, their lawyers challenged the prosecutors’ bid to place the 180 villagers on remand.

The court was yet to hand down its ruling on the state’s bid to place the villagers on remand by late Friday.