Farm Invaders Arrested
28 March 2024
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Two men have been arrested and charged with public violence following their alleged orchestration of a large-scale disruption at a farm operated by Schweppes in the Beitbridge West area. Vigilance Rich Baloyi, 35, and King Welly Nguluvhe, 25, are accused of mobilizing a mob exceeding 100 individuals in a forceful eviction of workers and extensive property damage at the Shobi Block subdivision 1 farm. This farm, under the stewardship of Beitbridge Juicing Schweppes Sunrise, has been at the center of a contentious dispute regarding land use and rights.

On a fateful Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors assert that Baloyi and Nguluvhe, in coordination with several other accomplices who remain at large, initiated their plan by gathering a group of about 20 people. This assembly occurred at the Toporo Business Centre, where they, along with others, were transported in vehicles including a Toyota Hiace truck to the farm in question. This action set the stage for what would unfold as a significant assault on the premises allocated to the juicing company by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development in 2019.

Upon arrival at the farm, the mob, allegedly led by the two men now in custody, launched an attack that saw the eviction of four farm workers and the theft of 122 cattle. The group went as far as to dismantle and set ablaze portions of the infrastructure, including tents and cattle pens, fundamentally accusing the farm employees of encroaching on their grazing lands.

The severity of this incident is underscored by the forcible removal of farm employees and livestock, alongside the physical destruction inflicted upon the property. The confrontation has prompted a response from local authorities, leading to the immediate arrest of Baloyi and Nguluvhe. Their initial court appearance did not include a plea, as the legal proceedings are only beginning to unfold.

As the local police continue their search for the remaining individuals involved in this egregious act of public violence, the community and stakeholders await further developments. This incident not only highlights the acute tensions surrounding land and resource allocation in the region but also raises serious questions about the measures necessary to prevent such confrontations in the future. The implications of this event extend beyond the immediate legal repercussions for those involved, touching on broader issues of land rights, agricultural development, and the sustainability of business operations in face of community grievances.