UPDATE: Zim police clash with farm-workers, 'over a dozen' held in 'fresh land grabs'

2017-06-24 16:10
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Harare – Zimbabwean police on Friday clashed with workers at a farm that was seized by police this week to pave way for a top cleric, Trevor Manhanga, who has links to President Robert Mugabe's ruling Znu-PF party.

More than a dozen employees of Robert Smart, the evicted white commercial farmer, were reportedly arrested following a protest at Lesbury Farm outside Rusape. The labourers demanded that Smart be allowed to return to the property and continue with his farming business.

Sources told News24 that heavily armed police arrived at the property as farm workers and villagers were demonstrating.

"Police arrived and started assaulting the protesters with baton sticks without asking them any questions. This was despite the fact that the demonstration was peaceful," said one of the farm-workers who requested not to be named for fear of reprisals.

"They also fired teargas at the protesters without being provoked. In retaliation, some of the protesters started throwing stones at the police resulting in about 13 people being arrested. They are being held at Rusape police station," added the source.

Perpetrators of violence 

Meanwhile, headman Gilbert Mutare of Nyavanhu village under the Tandi chieftainship told News24 that some villagers had sought refuge in mountains.

"Some of my people have since gone into the mountains because they do not feel safe at their homes. The police who are supposed to protect them are the perpetrators of violence. I wonder why they are getting angry on behalf of Manhanga," said Mutare.

Manicaland police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringa Kakohwa could not be reached for comment, as his phone went unanswered.   

Smart’s eviction came just a week after some villagers under the Tandi chieftainship approached the High Court seeking an interdiction against Lands Minister Doughlas Mombeshora and Manhanga from interfering with operations at the tobacco growing Lesbury Farm.

The villagers accused the clergyman of grabbing the farm in order to erect a church on shrines that the villagers said were sacred, court papers showed.

The villagers also argued their ancestors were buried in the Machinya hills located on the farm and allowing Manhanga to build his church would violate their cultural rights. 
Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  douglas mombeshora  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  zimbabwe land reforms

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