THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have expressed shock and concern over how several elderly people fell victim to the government-sponsored demolition of homes in various parts of the country’s rural areas.

Police arrested 180 villagers in Gwanda for illegally settling on State land and they are appearing at the Gwanda Magistrates Court amid concerns by the human rights lawyers that among them are the elderly.

In a report on the arrest of illegal settlers in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, ZLHR said most of the victims were the elderly and could be suffering from stress-related illnesses after being traumatised by law enforcers and government officials.

“The 180 villagers, who include a nonagenarian, octogenarian, septuagenarian, sexagenarians and youths, were apprehended by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers on February 7, 2024 during a dragnet arrest and summarily charged with occupying gazetted land without lawful authority as defined in Section 3(1)(4) as read with Section 5 of the Gazetted Land Consequential Provisions,” ZLHR noted.

“Prosecutors alleged that the 180 villagers, who reside in Nyandeni community in Gwanda North, Matabeleland South, unlawfully held, used or occupied land at Hollins Block Estate in Gwanda, which is gazetted land and without lawful authority.”

The lawyers noted that on their arrest on February 7, the villagers endured two nights in police detention and were only set free on February 9 after prosecutors declined to prosecute them when their lawyers Jabulani Mhlanga of ZLHR and Mitchell Chigova of Mabhikwa and Partners Legal Practitioners, challenged the manner in which their arrest had been effected as falling short of the provisions of Section 50 of the Constitution.

The villagers were then summoned to appear at Gwanda Magistrates Court on February 23, where prosecutors filed an application seeking to formally place them on remand.

However, their lawyers challenged the prosecutors’ bid to place the 180 villagers on remand. The court was yet to hand down its ruling on the State’s bid to place the villagers on remand by late Friday. — NewsDay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *