A Karoi magistrate has ordered the eviction of 89 illegal settlers from a game reserve in Hurungwe after ordering them to pay $10 000 fines for invading the property.
The illegal settlers had invaded part of the 6 000 hectares of Ruwanzi Game Ranch situated about 35 kilometres east of Karoi town.It is within Hurungwe Rural District Council Ward 3, which is part of Hurungwe East Constituency.
The suspects were found guilty after they settled without proper documentation in the area currently used as a cattle ranch by a private player.
Passing sentence, magistrate Moreblessing Makati said the accused persons had no legal rights to occupy Ruwanzi Ranch area.
They were fined $10 000 each.
‘‘In addition a month imprisonment is wholly suspended on condition that each of them vacate the said area by 14 November 2022,’’ ruled Makati.
‘‘There is no justification of the farm invasion. Let us respect property rights and if there is a need to occupy any land, be armed with proper documentation legally.”
The accused spent a night in Karoi Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) holding cells before appearing in court on November 11.They were facing charges of contravening Section 3 (1) Section 3 (4) of Gazetted lands (consequential provision) Act Chapter 20.28 read as ‘occupation of gazetted land without lawful authority’’
Prosecutor Prosper Maponde told the court that on November 5, 2022, the accused unlawfully occupied Ruwanzi Ranch.
The complainant was the state represented by Malvin Tendai Mhaka residing at Plot number 2 Solario farm, Banket.
He is employed by the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement stationed at Hurungwe District Office as principal estates officer.
‘‘On November 10, 2022, at around 5am ZRP officers visited the said area and interrogated the accused persons.
“None of them produced a valid offer letter, any lease agreement or any other legal document that gave them permission to occupy,” Maponde told the court.