Court orders CIO official off flower farm

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A SUSPECTED Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) official who early this month invaded a horticulture farm near Goromonzi, threatening the jobs of more than 150 workers, has been ordered to vacate the farm forthwith.

BY CHARLES LAITON/PHYLLIS MBANJE

Harare High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ordered the eviction of Timothy Muyambo alongside James Chiyangwa, R Kituli, Tendai Bonga and the police officers that had been assigned to guard “The Glebe” Farm, also known as Little Flower Farm, after evicting managing director Mathew Hopgood.

Through his lawyer Norman Mugiya, Hopgood approached the High Court on an urgent basis, arguing Muyambo and his colleagues had violated his constitutional rights.

In his founding affidavit, Hopgood said: “I am advised that no person is allowed to take the law into his own hands or resort to self-help of the law. To make matters worse, they evicted me and my family, but refused us to take our property such that we do not even have clothes to change on our persons. It is really sad and unbelievable.

“The first and second respondents (the Officer-in-Charge ZRP Goromonzi and Commissioner-General of Police) have since left a police officer to guard my house so that I do not get access inside and they have also broken all the keys and locks to the farm and replaced them with their own,” he added.

After listening to submissions from all the parties, Justice Mathonsi granted a provisional order which stated that: “The respondents are ordered to allow the applicant access to ‘The Glebe’ Farm forthwith, barred from going to ‘The Glebe’ Farm, prohibited from harassing the applicant’s workers in any way whatsoever pending the return date, ordered to forthwith restore Mathew Hopgood’s occupation at ‘The Glebe’ Farm and to his house and not to further interfere with his stay there at.”

According to Hopgood, Muyambo and his colleagues turned up at Little Flower Farm on June 8 this year and told workers that he had taken over the property from the white commercial farmer.

His intrusion, however, brought business at the farm to a halt, with flowers and peas destined for export reportedly getting bad.

Hopgood says the farm exports 180 boxes of flowers weekly and close to two tonnes of peas.

Meanwhile, Mashonaland East Provincial Minister of State Joel Biggie Matiza claimed the horticulture farm was gazetted in 2001.
In an interview with NewsDay before the High Court ruling, Matiza could, however, not recall who had been allocated the farm.
“I know it was given to a local, but I cannot remember the name,” he said.

It was alleged that a mob of 12 men in four vehicles and police recently escorted Muyambo who claimed ownership of the property.
The group, which had set up camp at the farm, changed locks on the gate and ordered employees to stop working before occupying the office block.

According to reports, Matiza had promised that the farm would not be taken, but the Provincial Affairs minister has since distanced himself from the alleged promises.

“How can that be when the farm was long gazetted? It is only proper and procedural to give it to the locals,” he said.
Matiza claimed the current white farmer was leasing from someone else.

“This guy at the farm is not the owner, he entered into an arrangement with the original farmer and is leasing from him.”