At least 21 former Stanely Farms (Pvt) Ltd residents in Chegutu, have been slapped with an effective one year jail term each for contempt of court after refusing to vacate the farm in defiance of a court order.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The court, however, gave the respondents a 48-hour ultimatum to vacate the farm or risk serving prison terms.
According to the court papers, and judgment by High Court Judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero, the farmers were initially ordered to vacate the farm through an order granted on May 1, 2017, but they refused to comply.
Justice Chikowero said the 21 farmers were evicted on June 27 and 28, 2017 and on June 30, 2017 the Sheriff of the High Court discovered that all the farmers had initially moved off the farm, but returned.
The judge said the farm again approached the court for another eviction court order which was granted on December 10, 2018, but despite the existence of such an order, the residents again returned, prompting the current application.
However, in their responses farmers denied having invaded the farm saying they only sent some people to check on their properties, but their explanation did not find favour with the court.
“If they still have property there, more than two years after the granting of the court order, their remedy is to make an arrangement with the applicant to collect their property from the farms. In doing so, it is not necessary that the respondents appear at the farms,” Justice Chikowero said.
“In fact, the mere presence of the property there to this day is evidence that they do not want to let go of use of applicant’s farms, more than two years after they were evicted therefrom. I will therefore grant the relief sought, with amendments,” he said declaring them as being in contempt of court.
“…In the event of any of respondents failing to comply with paragraphs 1 and 2 of the court order dated May 16, 2017 . . . within 48 hours of the granting of this order, then such respondent is to be committed to Kadoma Remand Prison for one year.”
The order will not, however, operate against Amon Kunje and Garikai Mafa who both complied.