TWENTY-FOUR villagers have been convicted and fined US$50 each for invading a farm owned by the late MDC politician, Roy Bennet.
They were arrested two weeks ago and appeared before Karoi magistrate Johane Mkwesha who also slapped them with a four months suspended sentence on condition of good behaviour.
The accused persons, who illegally occupied the farm along Karoi-Chinhoyi Highway in 2004, were ordered to vacate the farm by March 30, 2024.
The villagers’ legal representative Brett Seth Ruchike of Saizi Law said: “As we speak, they have been released and given a period of time to pay the fine being the 20th of February 2024.”
The villagers were arrested on January 15 this year.
Wonder Nhope, a land estates officer at Hurungwe District Lands Office, is the complainant in the case.
State prosecutor Sheppard Hokoma told the court that all the “accused persons without any offer letter, lease, or permit from the Lands ministry or without any other lawful authority occupied Lazy Five Farm, Karoi which is a gazetted land.
“Lazy Five Farm, Karoi is a gazetted land in Hurungwe which was allocated to 88 A1 plot holders sometime in 2002 and they basically acquired their offer letters.”
According to the allegations, officers from the Hurungwe Lands Office visited Lazy Five Farm on January 10 this year to verify land ownership and established that there were about 180 illegal settlers on the farm.
The Lands Office officers reported the case to Karoi police (Rural), leading to their arrest.