Source: ‘Grace probe suffers still birth’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 17, 2017
A ZIMBABWE Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) probe into the brutal removal of villagers from Arnold Farm in Mazowe to allow for the expansion of First Lady Grace Mugabe’s business empire, could suffer a still-birth, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
The ZHRC last week sent two investigators after reports of police brutality in the forced removal of hundreds of villagers from the farm by baton wielding and gun-toting police officers.
ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi confirmed his investigators had failed to meet Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha, the officer-in charge at Mazowe Police Station and the provincial chief lands officer.
“After the reports by the NewsDay, Mugwadi seemed to have developed cold feet.
Initially he was willing to have a go at the First Lady’s excesses but someone seemed to have ‘whispered’ some not-so-nice message into his ear,” said a source close to the investigations.
“Although Mugwadi did not expressly withdraw the investigation, at least officially, his body language had changed and indicated he wanted the ‘dust to settle’ before commencing. There is a danger it could actually be called off.”
Contacted for comment on Friday, Mugwadi curtly said: “I am in a conference”, before he hung up.
Dinha also denied reports he had refused to cooperate with the ZHRC investigating team.
“I would be willing to meet the investigating team. I have not snubbed anyone. It’s just that I have been travelling a lot. In fact, I did not even know they wanted to meet me over the issue. I was in Dubai last week before travelling to Zambia. I am actually at Lusaka International Airport as we speak and would actually want to talk to Commissioner Mugwadi now,” Dinha said before asking for the ZHRC boss’s mobile numbers.
But the villagers’ lawyer, Moses Donsa Nkomo said he had written to Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri raising displeasure at the continued violation of a High Court order by the police.
In his letter to Chombo, dated April 10, Donsa Nkomo said: “Our clients advise that boom gates have been erected at all entry points into Arnold Farm and that armed police officers are manning the gates.
We are further in possession of evidence indicating that a police base manned by Support Unity personnel has been established at Arnold Farm, including one Assistant Inspector James Teta Force Number 045940J and Sergeant Zvinoitavamwe Tongovona, Force Number 0460405, and a team of about 16 other officers,” the letter read in part.
“The officers are actively participating in unlawful eviction of Arnold Farm residents in defiance of two High Court orders.”
Nkomo wants the police officers withdrawn from the farm and ordered to stop the eviction of the villagers.