Esidakeni Farm owners are demanding nearly US$340 000 in compensation for the destruction of their crops during the time Dumisani Madzivanyati ‘illegally occupied’ the farm.
Esidakeni, also known as Kershelmar Farms (Private) Limited is owned by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) director, Siphosami Malunga, Zephaniah Dhlamini and Charles Moyo.
Malunga, Dhlamini and Moyo bought the farm in 2017 from former white farmers but are struggling to retain ownership as the state acquired the farm in 2020 via a Notice of Acquisition General Notice 3042 that appeared in a government gazette.
In December, Malunga and partners were granted a provisional order to evict Madzivanyati from Esidakeni after he defied the initial court order.
Madzivanyati and ZANU-PF secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, were controversially allocated pieces of land by the State at the farm.
The High Court order said should Madzivanyati fail to comply, he together with workers claiming occupation through him would be sentenced to 12 months in prison.
In a letter to Madzivanyati dated 15 February 2022, Kershelmar Farms through their lawyers, Webb, Low & Barry, demanded that he pays a total of US$339 660 within seven days, failure of which legal action would be taken against him.
“Our clients were in peaceful occupation of the farm known as Esidakeni Farm where they planted 150 000 tomatoes and 65 000 butternuts,” reads the letter.
“Our clients have advised that from the period of September 2021 – November 2021 you were in unlawful occupation of our clients’ farm. During that period, you unlawful tempered with our clients’ irrigation system depriving our clients’ crops of water during the critical reproductive stage. You unlawfully diverted our clients’ water systems to service a piece of land you had identified as belonging to yourself and our clients were unable to water and spray their crops which resulted in the crops suffering moisture stress and insects infestation.”
The lawyers argued as a result of that, their clients’ crops “were seriously damaged and experienced wilting and drying off of foliage, flower, abortion, and fruits which could not develop to marketable size and grade.”
They further explained in the letter: “This damage to the crops has caused our clients to suffer financial loss amounting to US$339 660 (three hundred and thirty-nine thousand six hundred and sixty dollars). We have been instructed to demand, as we hereby do, payment of the amount of US$339 660 to our clients within seven (7) days of receipt of this letter failing which, further recourse will be sought against you at the High Court for recovery of the same, the costs of which shall be for your account.”