HomeNewsHuman rights group urges govt to give Mazowe evictees basic needs

Human rights group urges govt to give Mazowe evictees basic needs

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Zimbabwean government to ensure that evicted residents of Arnolds Farm, owned by the First Family, are not denied their rights to shelter, food and health as enshrined in international law and Zimbabwe’s Constitution.

BY Phyllis Mbanje

The residents were rendered homeless in March when truckloads of riot police demolished their homes before dumping them by the roadside 40 kilometres away.

Many have since been living as destitutes after losing their crops and livestock during the demolitions.

HRW Southern Africa director, Dewa Mavhinga said the government should urgently intervene in the Arnolds Farm case to stop the ongoing violation of court orders.

“The government should also investigate police conduct and punish any people, who are found responsible for the abuses,” he said.

An HRW team visited Arnolds Farm on May 9 and witnessed four uniformed and armed anti-riot police and six people in civilian clothes demolishing homes and destroying property belonging to farm residents.

The organisation also made efforts to contact lawyers, who represent the First Family, as well as provincial and police officials, but did not receive any reply to questions regarding the ownership of Arnolds Farm and the conduct of the police.

“Residents have occupied the farm for 17 years, and any process to evict them should respect their rights and follow due process,” HRW said.

According to witnesses at Arnolds Farm, who spoke to HRW, police would put a rope around each house, tie it to a truck, and then drive the truck to pull the house down.

They then allegedly cordoned off the area, set up entry and exit checkpoints, stationed 18 police officers to patrol the farm, and told the residents that anyone found on the farm would be trespassing.

Two residents were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing because, according to police statements in court, they “illegally entered into Arnolds Farm, which is owned by the First Family”. Lawyers provided to the two by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, witnessed the police assaulting their clients during the arrest. The magistrates’ court later freed the two.

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