Source: Villager shot dead in Chimanimani land row | The Herald November 28, 2019
Takunda Maodza Mutare Bureau Chief
A DISPUTE over land turned fatal at Ariston Holdings’ Roscommon Estate in Chimanimani on Monday after a security guard gunned down a villager and injured another, The Herald has learnt.
Police and Ariston Holdings confirmed the incident yesterday.
Roscommon Estate produces world acclaimed niche red tea Wanganella. It is also into macadamia, coffee and potato production. The company runs four other estates across the country, namely Claremount, Kent, Clearwater and Southdown.
The Herald is reliably informed that the company has been at loggerheads with villagers since 2002 after part of its estate was gazetted by Government.
This paved way for its allocation to the landless.
“They (Ariston Holdings) asked for a grace period saying they wanted to harvest their crop but they continued on the farm to date creating friction with new farmers who had been allocated the land,” a source told The Herald.
Relations between the company and the villagers broke down after it allegedly destroyed their crops and banana plantations recently. Villagers’ homes were also destroyed.
This was after the company obtained a court order granting it permission to evict the settlers.
“On November 19 the Messenger of Court came to evict the settlers. When they came, the district lands committee was engaging the company to try and find an amicable solution. They started destroying some structures. On Monday morning the company sent its employees to destroy the people’s banana plantations and other crops,” added the source.
Some homes were also destroyed.
“Last night those who had their homes destroyed decided to go to the estate to safeguard their belongings. A security guard identified as Nicholas Bere fired at the villagers, killing Mr Beware Tsarai. He injured Mr Shingai Mafake. Mr Mafake was rushed to Mutambara Hospital where he is admitted. Mr Tsarai’s body was taken to a mortuary in Chipinge. Bere was arrested and faces a murder charge,” said the source.
Manicaland deputy police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Luxon Chananda confirmed the incident yesterday.
“There is a conflict over a boundary and on the day in question there was a meeting that was addressed by the district administrator. There was an altercation between the settlers and Roscommon employees. The issue was resolved in the morning. In the evening the settlers armed themselves and approached the company’s premises. They attacked a security guard on duty. The guard tried to defend himself by firing into the mob. Beware Tsarai was shot and he died while another person was injured and rushed to hospital,” he said.
Ariston Holdings human resources head Mr Brian Kangondo also confirmed the incident.
He said they were evicting the settlers in terms of a court order granted in their favour.
“They had encroached into our estate. We evicted them in 2012 through the court processes and they came back in 2016. We again got court assistance and they were ordered to leave.
“They had planted some crops during the 2017-18 season. We allowed them to harvest but thereafter they did not leave. We approached the courts and they were ruled to be in contempt of court,” he said.
Mr Kangondo said the Messenger of Court evicted the settlers on Tuesday last week.
“Sometime in October we started a process of putting a boundary fence to demarcate the area to protect our estate,” he said.
The company blames the settlers for the disharmony.
“On Monday in the afternoon at around 7pm a group of between 30 and 60 people advanced into our fields. They were armed with machetes, stones and catapults. They headed for the sub-office in our macadamia area and started destroying property. Our security guard fired warning shots but they were undeterred. In the end he fired into the crowd.
“One person was injured and passed on. Another one was rushed to hospital,” said Mr Kangondo.
The security guard was arrested.