Chipinge Villagers Acquitted In Land Invasion Allegations
19 June 2024
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By James Gwati- The High Court has upheld the appeal of 13 Mahachi villagers from Chipinge, overturning their convictions for the illegal occupation of their ancestral land.

Represented by Professor Lovemore Madhuku and Advocate Tariro Tazvitya, the villagers appealed the decision made by the Chipinge Magistrates Court on April 3, 2023.

Justice Alfred Chinembiri had previously convicted the villagers of illegal occupation after 14 court appearances.

However, the High Court judges, Justice Isaac Muzenda and Justice Jesta Halena Charehwa, presided over the appeal and ruled in favour of the villagers on Wednesday.

The High Court’s ruling exonerates the villagers, declaring them not guilty and free from the charges.

This decision is a significant moment in the ongoing land struggle and advocacy for land tenure security, particularly for the more than 16 villages facing similar eviction threats by the Chipinge Rural District Council (RDC).

Claris Madhuku, Director of the Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD), emphasised the importance of the judgement:
“The judgement is welcome and vindicates both the villagers and our advocacy efforts. These villagers have not broken any laws as they reside on their ancestral land. Any processes to convert land use must be regularised through due process. We are concerned that Chipinge RDC might misuse the courts and police for rent-seeking developments. It’s crucial to broaden stakeholder engagement, especially with the drafting of the Master Plan. This is not the first time villagers have prevailed against Chipinge RDC; the courts have consistently supported us in Munyokowere, Maunganidze, Chinyamukwakwa, Chisumbanje, Beacon Hill, Chiriga, and other areas. Chipinge RDC should engage humbly with PYCD and the communities to find sustainable solutions for the land disputes in Chipinge.”

The Chipinge Rural District Council is advised to heed this judgement carefully, as it highlights the proper handling of displacements and dispossessions.