Couple withdraws suit to stop eviction of Crowhill settlers

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Couple withdraws suit to stop eviction of Crowhill settlers

Fidelis Munyoro

Chief Court Reporter

A couple once convicted and jailed for fraud, Florence and Felix Pambukani, have withdrawn their High Court suit seeking to stop eviction of illegal settlers occupying Crowhill Estate in Borrowdale, in terms of a High Court order issued in 2021, because the evictions have taken place and urgent applications cannot be tied to past events.

The couple had filed an urgent application seeking to block the Sheriff of the High Court from enforcing the eviction of people, who had paid the Pambukanis for stands the couple had no right to sell.

The High and Supreme Courts have both ordered the couple not to try and sell land on Crowhill Estate.

Crowhill Estate lawyer Mr Timon Tabana, who represents the legal owners of the estate, confirmed the withdrawal of the matter. 

“They filed an urgent application on May 11 seeking to set aside the writ of execution but the application was removed from the roll of urgent matters because it had been overtaken by events,” he said. 

“They attempted another application to interdict the Sheriff but withdrew the application at the hearing, because a court cannot interdict a past event.” 

The couple withdrew their application, last Wednesday, before Justice Lucy-Anne Mungwari, on the grounds that the relief sought had already been overtaken by events.

 The Pambukanis claim to be owners of the land measuring over 724 hectares. They wanted to stop the Sheriff, with the assistance of the police, from evicting some of the tenants and illegal occupants on the property and stop the demolitions of structures on the property without a court order.

In his opposing papers, Mr Tabana argued that the Pambukanis’ application could not pass the test of urgency, given that no urgency can be attached to past events done in terms of due process. So the relief sought in chorus by the Pambukanis was unavailing.

Despite a High Court order and a subsequent Supreme Court confirmation, barring them from selling the disputed property, the Pambukanis resumed illicit operations at Crowhill Estate posing as rightful landowners and duping desperate buyers. 

The Pambukanis have previously been convicted of defrauding Lonrho Zimbabwe and served eight-year prison terms. The estate is legally owned by Crowhill Private Limited.

The 2021 High Court order, which mandated the eviction of all illegal occupants, remains disregarded as buyers, misled by the Pambukanis, resist eviction.

Crowhill Pvt Ltd officials have made efforts to rectify the situation by inviting affected individuals to regularise their land status or face eviction. But the couple’s continued activities have left many in financial losses.