By Miriam Mangwaya
ABOUT 200 members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church, who had illegally settled themselves at a farm in Chivhu, were on Thursday left homeless after their homes were set ablaze during an eviction by the Sheriff of the High Court.
The villagers had illegally occupied the 600-hectare Moreson Farm owned by the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ).
The evicted villagers, including children, spent the night in the open at a dumpsite, some 2km from Chivhu town.
They admitted that they had no offer letters for the land and were in defiance of a High Court order issued to them in 2016.
According to documents in NewsDay Weekender’s possession, IDBZ was allocated the farm by the Lands ministry in 2010.
“Please, note that the land in question is for institutional agricultural use by the IDBZ and shall remain State land. The said land may be required for resettlement purpose in future should need arise,” part of the letter read.
Chairman of the affected families, Misheck Chuma said the eviction came at a time they were engaging the government to formalise their settlement.
“We wanted to get legal land ownership, hence, we have been liaising with the district administrator who is the head of the district lands committee to avoid eviction. However, nothing materialised until our houses were burnt,” he said.
Chikomba district development co-ordinator Michael Mariga said he had not yet been formally informed about the evictions.
When NewsDay Weekender visited the Chivhu farm on Thursday morning, breastfeeding and pregnant mothers were boiling dry maize for breakfast while pondering their next move.
Getrude Tivapedze (42) an evictee, said shortage of food and water was a major challenge since they were dumped in the middle of nowhere with no water source and ablution facilities.
“I do not have enough food for my family. When I saw the police and the other officers coming to evict us, I ran away in fear so I didn’t take any food and enough clothing for my children,” she said.
Another evictee, Plaxedes Magwede (29) said she was hoping that all the farmers would be given time to harvest their crops and move their properties to safe places before their homes were set on fire.
Ward 9 councillor Christopher Muchenje said it was disheartening that children and women have been exposed to harsh winter weather.