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Esidakeni Farm wrangle rages on in court

Local News
Bulawayo High court

TSHOLOTSHO magistrate Victor Mpofu on Tuesday turned down a request by Kershelmar Farms (Pvt) Limited (Esidakeni Farm) owners to postpone trial until the High Court rules on their application disputing the magistrate’s earlier dismissal of their application for exception.

Human rights defender Siphosami Malunga and his business partners Zephaniah Dhlamini and Charles Moyo whose farm is in Nyamandlovu appeared before Mpofu charged with unlawful occupation of the property.

They are denying the charge.

Through their defence lawyer Josphat Tshuma, they had requested the magistrate to wait for the outcome of their High Court application seeking a review of his decision to dismiss their application for exception.

The lawyer submitted a request for the magistrate to wait for the ruling on their High Court review application saying the charge they faced was defective and discloses no crime.

The defence then applied for the magistrate to recuse himself from the matter, but he also turned down the application and ordered the immediate start of the trial.

The State then proceeded to trial and called the first witness Sunson Dodzi, Matabeleland North provincial lands officer.

Dodzi, who was under cross examination by the lawyer, did not complete the process. 

The matter was postponed to November 22 for continuation, while the review and stay applications are pending at the High Court.

Malunga and his associates are embroiled in a farm ownership dispute with Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu and lecturer Dumisani Madzivanyathi.

The trio had filed an urgent chamber application for stay of prosecution in terms of rule 60(6) of the High Court rules, 2021 and court application for review of dismissal of their application for exception on October 31, citing Mpofu and the State as respondents.

In his ruling on the application for exception, the magistrate  said section 3 of the Land Act recognised it as a crime and penalised the continued occupation of land after the expiry of the period stated in subsection 3(2)(a)(b).

He said the State had the prerogative to prosecute anyone who breached the laws of the land.

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