ZLHR liberates villagers detained for allegedly settling on dam basin

Source: ZLHR liberates villagers detained for allegedly settling on dam basin

MORE than 60 villagers have been set free after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged for allegedly contravening the Water Act by reportedly settling along the banks of Mutirikwi Dam, in Masvingo province, where they had been residing for more than 20 years.


The 66 villagers, who include some aged over 70 years, and were represented by Frank Chirairo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were arrested on Monday 22 January 2024 by ZRP officers, who charged them with settling within a prohibited dam basin as defined in section 56(20) of the Water Act.

Prosecutors alleged that the 66 villagers unlawfully held, used or occupied Lake Mutirikwi basin, which is a prohibited dam basin.

The prosecutors, who stated that the complainant in the matter is the state represented by Trust Mvurume of Zimbabwe National Water Authority, charged that the 66 villagers have been unlawfully occupying some pieces of land under Lake Mutirikwi Dam basin since 2000 with no legal right to do so.

On Tuesday 23 January 2024, the 66 villagers were set free by a Masvingo Magistrate, who granted them ZWL100 000 bail each and ordered them to continue residing at their given residential addresses until their matter is finalised.

They return to court on Monday 29 January 2024, where their trial is scheduled to commence.