HARARE – The High Court has ordered illegal occupiers of a white farmer’s land in Goromonzi to vacate the land immediately saying the commercial farmer was unfairly evicted.
The ruling comes after Hector Dalton Ludick (senior), Hector Dalton Ludick (junior) and Jennifer Patricia Ludick filed a High Court application seeking to retain ownership of their Strathlone Farm, which had been taken over by one C Samuriwo.
In the application, the Ludicks cited Samuriwo, the Lands ministry and the Attorney General Prince Machaya, as respondents.
The application was made after the Lands ministry served Ludick senior with a notification of intention to withdraw an offer letter dated August 30, 2017, in a move which was eventually effected on September 26, 2017.
“On the same date, an offer letter was granted to the second respondent (Samuriwo). The offer letter granted to the second respondent concerned an area of 250 hectares.
“The first respondent (Lands ministry) advised the first applicant that the second respondent had been offered the land before the first applicant in 2006 and that by some ‘error’ this letter had been withdrawn or not properly withdrawn,” High Court judge Isaac Muzenda noted.
The applicants, however, sought a review of the decision, citing constitutional violations, adding that they were not afforded an opportunity to make representations, were not provided with reasons for the decision and that the decision was biased.
“To the applicants, the first respondent’s decision was contemptuous to this court, the reasons proffered by the first respondent for the withdrawal are weak, given the fact that the applicants are meaningfully and productively utilising the land, the withdrawal was grossly unreasonable, the applicants contend,” Muzenda further noted in his judgment.
He said the Ludicks are the owners of the land, which the Lands ministry is now seeking to allocate to other beneficiaries.
“He (Ludick senior) subscribed to the land reform, applied for an offer letter which as duly granted and henceforth started to meaningfully utilising the land. On the other hand, the second respondent was allegedly given an offer letter in 2004.
“Neither the first nor the second respondent (Samuriwo) produced and attached that offer letter to their opposing papers. In the absence of such an offer letter granted to the second respondent in 2004 this court finds that the second respondent cannot be termed the original allotee,” Muzenda said.
He said the onus was on the Lands ministry and Samuriwo to prove what they claimed in their court papers, considering that the Ludicks have been on the farm for the past 12 years.
“The new dispensation prevailing in the country is that these former owners of land who have been favoured with pieces of land and who can produce for the benefit of the nation must be given an opportunity to freely practice farming and the first respondent took heed to that clarion call and granted an offer letter to the first applicant,” Muzenda said, before handing down an order reversing the Lands ministry’s decision.
“Accordingly, it is ordered that the first applicant, his representatives, employees, invitees, be and are hereby entitled to the full use of the property reflected in first applicant’s offer letter of November 10, 2006 and of all the improvements therein,” he said, further ordering Samuriwo and all those claiming occupation through him to be evicted.