via War vets in court for sugar estates seizure 21/05/2014 NewZimbabwe
SOME 169 war veterans who early this month violently seized vast tracts of virgin land in Chiredzi and Triangle belonging to South Africa-based sugar producer Tongart Hullet have been hauled before a local court.
Stella Masosoti and 168 accomplices this week appeared before a Chiredzi Magistrate, Honest Masiwa, facing charges of unlawfully invading gazetted land.
The court heard that the war veterans’ invasion resulted in over 600 Shangani families joining in to invade thousands of hectares at Hippo valley’s Section 9 estates and Siringa Section 65 of Triangle estates.
The group has accused government of side-lining them during the chaotic land reform programme started at the turn of the millennium.
Prosecutor Liberty Hove said on 15 and 16 May this year, Masosoti and her group proceeded to Hippo Valley and Triangle sugar estates farms where they started pegging plots for themselves and attempted to start farming activities at the two estates.
The court heard that the group resisted efforts by Tongutt Hullets officials to move them off the land, leading to a police report.
They were later arrested and put in police custody at Chiredzi central and Triangle police station before they were brought to court.
In their defence, the war vets are arguing that they are in possession of offer letters from the government issued to them by former Masvingo Governor, Titus Maluleke.
Rural Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora said they had been given letters to occupy “virgin land” that isn’t owned by the agricultural company.
“We don’t allow any invaders on any piece of land, so any invader must be pulled out immediately,” Mombeshora told Bloomberg News.
“The matter is being dealt with appropriately by the authorities and operations are continuing as normal,” said Adelaide Chikunguru-Musvovi, a Tongaat Hulett spokeswoman.