77 farm workers sue police over vandalised property, torture

POLICE in Rusape have been taken to court for allegedly destroying 77 farm workers’ property during a forced eviction at Lesbury Farm in June last year to pave way for the new farm owner, Bishop Trevor Manhanga.

BY Jairos Saunyama

The workers have filed for compensation.

Police officers besieged Lesbury Farm, popularly known as KwaSmart, and violently chucked out the farm owner, Robert Smart, his family and workers to pave way for Manhanga, who was being rewarded for “praying for the former First Family”.

The workers, who had their property destroyed and left counting losses, have filed their notices of intent to sue through their lawyer, Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), demanding compensation for lost property.

In a letter signed by one Inspector N Zvizveni from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)’s legal services department, police acknowledged receipt of the farm workers’ letters and indicated that investigations were in progress.

“Investigations into the allegations raised therein are being instituted. The civil division of the Attorney-General’s Office will communicate our attitude towards your complaint shortly,” the letter from the police read.

According to an application by one of the farm workers, Emily Phiri, Inspector Nyakuedzwa of Rusape Police Station led a brutal force with other unknown assailants clad in worksuits and assaulted her using batons.

“On June 19, 2017, our client and other occupants of the farm were evicted from their homes. They were attacked by riot police despatched from Rusape Police Station under the command of Inspector Nyakuedzwa and other unknown assailants wearing blue worksuits, who also disposed of our client’s personal property.

“Our client was assaulted with baton sticks (sic) on her head and back. She was subsequently hauled into a lorry and taken away from the farm. The assault resulted in injuries on her head and back. She has a medical affidavit documenting her injuries,” the notice read.

Phiri, who claims she was born and bred at Lesbury Farm, said she lost property worth $890 during the evictions that includes blankets, television set, wadrobe and a DVD player.

“Our client is suing for unlawful assault, compensation for the loss of property that was apprehended (sic) or destroyed by members of the ZRP, and constitutional damages for inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary evictions ….,” the notice continued.

Meanwhile, a number of farm workers have gone back to Lesbury Farm following the return of the Smart family, who have since begun production.

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