A NYAMANDLOVU farmer is battling for life at Mpilo Central Hospital while two cops and officials from the Deputy Sheriff’s Office have also been hospitalised after nine illegal settlers allegedly set upon them with axes, logs and stones.
The squatters, a court heard, were protesting over the execution of an eviction order issued by the High Court for them to leave Mr Luke Siziba’s farm.
Prosecutors said the squatters barricaded a road by standing in front of the vehicles which were used by the police and the Sheriff of the High Court.
They deflated vehicle tyres, smashed windscreens and damaged the vehicle body with axes and logs and stones.
The three women and six men claimed the police and court officials had no right to evict them from Badminton Farm in Nyamandlovu as they had been allocated the land by Chief Deli.
Thobekile Gumede (45), Bekezela Nkomo (39), Bigboy Ndlovu (46), Erita Midzi (53), Fashion Msimanga (51), Matsetsereao Dlamini (38), Alexander Sibanda (60), Wilbroad Dube (66) and Paul Dube (65) all squeezed in the dock as they appeared before Western Commonage magistrate Ms Tancy Dube charged with public violence.
Magistrate Dube denied them bail and remanded them in custody to October 4.
The investigating officer Sergeant Sibanda told the court that the illegal settlers were not fit for bail.
“Your Worship, I oppose their bail application because they struck a man with an axe three times and his condition is deteriorating at Mpilo (Central) Hospital.
“The two assaulted police officers are still admitted at the camp hospital.
“They could be a flight risk. Because of his deteriorating condition they are likely to face heavier charges.
“The charge could be graduated from assault to attempted murder, therefore that accused persons may be in a position to try and escape the due process of the law,” said Sergeant Sibanda.
Mr Russel Dzete of Marondeze, Mukuku and partners legal practitioners, representing the illegal settlers rubbished the investigating officer’s claims, saying that a court cannot base its rulings on assumptions.
“You cannot base the rulings of the court on assumptions. Let’s not talk about what is likely to happen should Siziba’s condition get worse. We cannot predict the future.
“The accused persons can even die before this matter is even finalised, that is another assumption. Can we base the court processes on that? Let us focus on what we have now,” said Mr Dzete.
For the State, Mr Busani Moyo said the nine illegal settlers resisted a court order to vacate Badminton Farm in Nyamandlovu and incited public violence, which led to the loss of over $1 500 worth of property and $300 cash.
“On September 20 at around 11AM, the complainant, (deputy sheriff) had gone to Badminton Farm to execute an eviction order of the High Court where they had to eject the illegal occupants and destroy all their structures,” said Mr Moyo.
The police officers at the scene were allegedly overwhelmed and had to call for backup as the situation had turned nasty.
“Police at the scene called for backup from Pumula Police Station.
“They managed to arrest the accused persons, who were in a kombi hired from Badminton Farm. They were all positively identified by the deputy sheriff and police officers,” said the prosecutor.
Illegal settlers at Badminton Farm are not new to controversy as 400 of them last year resisted a High Court order to move out of the property, claiming that they had been legally resettled by Chief Deli. — By Andile Tshuma