BY SILAS NKALA
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has visited Cyrene Farm in Figtree, owned by the Anglican Province of Central Africa Church, to investigate cases of human rights violations by invaders and police.
This was after a church worker was assaulted by police officers when he went to report the invasion of the property.
Over 500 illegal settlers have invaded the property owned by Anglican Province of Central Africa Church, Figtree, Matabeleland South
The settlers seized the farm at the height of the chaotic land reform programme in 2000, with police said to be reluctant to evict them despite the existence of a High Court order.
ZHRC officers, who visited the area early this month, are preparing a report to be submitted to Parliament and President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“The commission is investigating how the invaders got on the farm, who gave them permission, and whether their offer letters are valid and authentic, and why the local authority has not taken action even after church officials engaged them several times on the issue. They are investigating why there is laxity on the part of law enforcement agents to deal with the invaders and the land barons,” a source from the church said.
The source said ZHRC intended to establish who was responsible for the acquisition of the farm since it is disputed land.
ZHRC chairperson Elisto Mugwadi could not deny nor confirm that the commission was probing the Cyrene Farm invasion.
Mugwadi said he was not on the ground to comment and referred Southern Eye to his deputy Dorothy Moyo, who is based in Bulawayo.
“Yes, our team went on a fact-finding mission. It is currently writing a report that will constitute our recommendations. I will link up with it tomorrow and see how far it has gone,” Moyo said.
Sometime in 2003, the Anglican Church filed a High Court application seeking the eviction of settlers from the farm.
The High Court granted the order, but the deputy sheriff did not execute the order until recently.
Indications are that the deputy sheriff was paid to deal with only 52 of the illegal settlers.
Church officials are concerned that the settlers are returning to the place and police officers are reluctant to take action.
The invaders are reportedly encroaching onto Cyrene High School, clinic and a cattle-ranching project.