CLOSE to 15 farm invaders were yesterday arrested at Mashonaland East Tobacco Graders in Bromley when the dreaded Police Support Unit members popularly known as “Black Boots” swooped on the property which has been at the centre of an ownership wrangle.
Sources say the evicted farm workers initially put up a spirited fight, but were no match for the Police Support Unit which had beefed up its numbers.
More arrests were expected soon as investigations into the skirmishes which saw several people injured intensified.
NewsDay witnessed some of the suspects being ferried in police trucks to Goromonzi Police Station where they were likely to face public violence charges.
Officer-in-charge at Goromonzi Police Station Chief Inspector Munyanyi could neither confirm nor deny the arrests referring questions to provincial headquarters in Marondera.
However, Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Tendai Mwanza said he had not yet received the report.
“I will get the details from Goromonzi station later,” Mwanza said.
Samson Chauruka, owner of the contested piece of land, which is capable of processing 10 tonnes of export tobacco per month, has faced stiff resistance from the farm workers who have since Saturday violently blocked him from entering the farm.
On Monday, the farm invaders allegedly attacked Chauruka and his delegation resulting in several people getting injured in the mayhem. One person, only identified as White, is said to be still missing after the melee.
Brandishing axes, catapults, stones and other farming equipment, the farm workers turned rowdy and smashed windows on Chauruka’s three cars before turning their wrath on the unsuspecting members who had accompanied Chauruka.
Intervention from riot police yielded little result as the angry mob continued to haul objects and bricks at vehicles forcing the occupants to flee the scene.
The farm workers were allegedly mobilised by people loyal to Goromonzi South MP and Transport deputy minister Petronella Kagonye who has been fingered in a number of land grabs in the area.
Close to 7 000 Zanu PF members were earlier allocated stands just before last year’s July 31 elections in Ruwa, but Kagonye allegedly reneged on the promise and started taking back the land. However, yesterday, following a few arrests by the police, the farm workers calmed down and by late evening they stood around the compound looking nervous and unsure of the next action to take.