Angry villagers assaulted Chiredzi district administrator Clara Muzenda and police officer commanding Chiredzi District, Chief Superintendent Patson Nyabadza, following a long-standing land dispute.
Ten other members of the Masvingo provincial lands committee were also beaten up by the villagers last Thursday at an aborted meeting at Nuanetsi Ranch.
The DA and the police were trying to evict the villagers to make way for a biodiesel project run by business mogul Billy Rautenbach.
Rautenbach — who has close links with Zanu PF — took over the Nuanetsi Ranch, including the piece of land in question, for his multi-billion dollar biodiesel project.
This comes as Chitungwiza flea market vendors beat up town clerk Godfrey Tanyanyiwa and three security officers Thursday angered by the demolition of their stalls in a council clampdown that started on Wednesday this week.
Tanyanyiwa is said to have sought refuge in a toilet with the vendors baying for his blood. They found then beat him up with fists and kicked him all over.
The vendors said they wanted to discipline Tanyanyiwa “for his acts”. Tanyanyiwa became unpopular with vendors after council demolished illegal structures, including vending stalls, in the sprawling town.
“I only saw a group of people walking towards the offices chanting slogans and demanding to see the town clerk. The gates at the council offices were locked but the mob forced their way in and they started beating up anyone who was in municipal uniform but their main target was the Tanyanyiwa and mayor Philemon Chipiyo,” said an eyewitness.
Tanyanyiwa sustained injuries but by last night it could not be established how serious the injuries were.
Chipiyo confirmed the incident but said he could not comment further as he was not at the scene when it happened.
“I just received a call from someone who told me something was happening at head office. I was not there when it happened so I cannot give you the details you are looking for,” the mayor said.
Harare police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau said he had not yet received information to that effect but would comment after receiving the reports.
In Chiredzi, eight of the villagers have since been arrested in connection with the assault while Muzenda, Nyabadza and the 10 lands committee members who sustained injuries were taken to Chiredzi District Hospital where they were treated and discharged.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake confirmed the incident and the arrest of the villagers whom he said would appear in court soon.
“We have arrested eight suspects following the skirmishes at Nuanetsi Ranch. They will appear in court soon facing assault charges,” Matake said.
Sources within the police force said the arrested villagers were locked up in lice-infested cells for attacking the most senior policeman in the district.
Villagers, who are settled at Lundi Block, ran riot after they were ordered to leave the farm by the lands committee.
The villagers — who occupied the farm at the height of the chaotic land seizures from white commercial farmers — claim they were assured they would not be removed from the farm by Zanu PF officials whom they campaigned for in previous elections.
The villagers also questioned the rationale of displacing them in favour of Rautenbach. They said such a move would defeat the whole purpose of the land redistribution exercise.
“President Robert Mugabe told us to stay here, now these people come here and they tell us that we will be evicted. Where will we go? We will not tolerate that. After all, the land is being given back to a white person.
“Can you imagine that?” angrily queried a settler who preferred not to be named for fear of victimisation.