File: Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe is due to attend a regional leaders' summit in Pretoria on Saturday.
HARARE – Villagers who were forcibly evicted from a farm in Mazowe by former first lady Grace Mugabe won their case against the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
On Monday, the villagers approached the Bindura Magistrate&39;s Court demanding compensation for loss of property and impaired dignity during the eviction process.
The demands varied from one villager to the other, depending on what was lost and the extent of the humiliation.
Three magistrates, who presided over the cases, handed down judgment in favour of five of the 30 applicants that approached the courts.
Through human rights lawyer Noble Chinhau, the villagers cited Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and six junior officers as defendants.
Leonard Mukoore and King Masoka were both awarded $2,650. Esther Mushukuti and Alec Kamonera were granted $3,210 and $3,500 respectively by the presiding magistrate Moreblessing Makati, while Jona Zomba, whose case was heard by magistrate Shelly Zvenyika, was granted $1,600 compensation.
Judgment for the other 25 villagers is still pending.
The villagers argued that in January 2015, police details arrived at Manzou Farm armed with guns and batons. Without producing any court order, police officers ordered residents to leave the farm, villagers said in their court application.
Mukoore told the court that he was assaulted in front of his children and, as such, suffered humiliation. He said police officers destroyed his home, a two-roomed cottage, kitchen hut, five tonnes of maize, 17 bags of ground nuts and household furniture.
The Home Affairs minister and Police Commissioner-General were accused by villagers of knowingly violating the Constitution in order to please the Mugabe family.
“The defendant’s actions were in clear violation of section 74 of the Constitution, which provides that no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished without an order of the court made after considering relevant circumstances. These actions were in clear violation of the plaintiffs right to property under section 71 of the Constitution,” they said in their application.
Of the police action, villagers argued that ZRP was “aware that their actions were unlawful . . . and, as such, they are liable for their actions”.
Grace has been using the police to evict the villagers to pave way for an animal sanctuary until her husband, Robert Mugabe, was deposed from power by the military last November.