via Bulawayo24 NEWS | White farmer ordered to vacate farm in Zimbabwe 30 September 2013
A farmer who has four times resisted eviction from a Beatrice farm has again been ordered off the farm by the High Court to pave way for a beneficiary who has been battling to assert his rights on the property for the past eight years.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ordered Mr Joseph Goncalves to leave subdivision 1 of Charmaine of Dryton in Seke district and pave way for Mr Chamunorwa Charles Mutyambizi.
In his judgment made available last week, Justice Bhunu noted the spirited resistance by Mr Goncalves, who has sought relief in four different courts without success in his bid to remain in occupation of the property.
Justice Bhunu, however, absolved the police who did not enforce court orders, saying a letter from the then Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Dr Herbert Murerwa, purporting to withdraw an offer letter to Mr Mutyambizi created confusion that resulted in police failing to move in.
Mr Goncalves has in the past approached the High Court, Administrative Court and the Supreme Court but failed in all the platforms.
In the present urgent chamber application heard before Justice Bhunu, Mr Goncalves enlisted the support of local community leaders who include a councillor and war veteran who swore affidavits to advance his cause saying it was for the greater good of the community for him to remain on the farm.
But in his judgment, Justice Bhunu noted that what should be looked at was what the law provided.
“While the interests of the community are important considerations, the overriding consideration are the provisions of the law,” said Justice Bhunu.
“Thus whenever community interests come into conflict with the law, they will have to give way to the dictates of the law. That is what the rule of law is all about.”
He said while Mr Mutyambizi complained the police were not helpful to his cause in protecting him, he felt that the law enforcement agencies were genuinely confused by the Minister’s conduct in issuing two conflicting offer letters to two different people pertaining to the same piece of land.
“It was not for the police to decide the validity or otherwise of any of the contrasting letters.
“Now that the court has clarified the position the police are duty bound to perform their constitutional mandate without let or hindrance,” he said.
During the ensuing wrangle, Mr Mutyambizi had successfully challenged the withdrawal of his offer letter by the the then minister in the Administrative Court and reissued Mr Goncalves with another offer letter as he sought to provide an alternative piece of land to the indigenous farmer.
The court also noted some discrepancies in Mr Goncalves’ assertion where on one hand he sought to claim that he never lost occupation of the property yet in another court application before a different judge he had sought safe passage to collect his remaining belongings.
This was after the Deputy Sheriff had enforced one of the court orders and removed Mr Goncalves from the farm.
Justice Bhunu castigated Mr Goncalves who together with hordes of some people took occupation of the disputed property.
“That being the case, Mr Goncalves’ reoccupation of the farm without Mr Mutyambizi’s consent can only amount to spoliation. It is needless to say that our law frowns upon illegal self-help to dispossess another,” he said.
He said the conduct by Mr Goncalves and his team in the community to openly and deliberately defy the law and lawful court orders was reprehensible and could only bring the due administration of justice into disrepute.
Justice Bhunu said it was for that reason that he was awarding costs at a higher scale. Mr Mutyambizi’s lawyer, Mr Itayi Ndudzo of Mutamangira and Associates, welcomed the court judgment.
“His conduct is brazenly contemptuous and intransigent. The appropriate legal steps are already in motion to ensure that justice is done in this case,” he said.