ABOUT 200 settlers at Umvutsha farm, Umguza, in Matabeleland North province, are facing eviction more than a decade after they were allocated pieces of land at the property.
They were initially evicted in 2019, but went on to occupy the property recently.
This emerged at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court where the chairperson of the resettled farmers, Ernest Buseti, was facing charges of unlawfully occupying State land.
He appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Shepherd Munjanja and was remanded to custody until next week Friday.
The court heard that Beseti led a group of Zanu PF supporters to occupy the property without offer letters.
The land in question belongs to the State.
The State says the settlers deliberately ignored several warnings by authorities to vacate the said land.
In their defence, the resettled farmers through their lawyer, Bartholomew Mhandire, said it was wrong for the State to charge the settlers for illegal occupation of the land.
“These people were given offer letters by the ministry of Lands,” Mhandire said.
“They were later evicted but they challenged their eviction at the higher courts..
“The Supreme Court upheld their appeal to say that the 2008 and any other subsequent hearing which was done by the High Court was a nullity because once land is gazetted no court shall have jurisdiction.”
The occupants had been on the farm since 2008 and were evicted in 2019 after having erected structures.
The settlers said they have been paying taxes.
The farm was gazetted in 2000.
In 2008, another General Notice 34 of 2008 gazetted the remaining pieces of land held by Michael Fletcher which were not captured in the initial 2000 gazette.
The Fletcher family owns Umvutcha farm which produces and supplies vegetables to several supermarkets in Bulawayo.