THERE was pandemonium at Lot H, Whiteside Farm in Bromley on Friday after 500 illegal settlers attacked the High Court Sheriff who was evicting them to pave way for a new owner.
The settlers, most of them clad in Zanu PF regalia and said to have worked for the previous occupant, at first moved out of the farm as the anti-riot police assisted the Sheriff before they returned at night and re-occupied their homes.
They threw stones, hit the Sheriff’s vehicle and overpowered the anti-riot police, while vehicles of the new owners were also stoned.
The new owner Samson Chauruka has been failing to occupy the farm for the past eight years as Zanu PF party members in the area refused to vacate because they said they were currently leasing a tobacco grading factory at the farm.
More than a 100 families are living in houses made of pole and mud at the farm that was owned by white farmer Lesley Lombert who sold it to Chauruka in 2011.
When the NewsDay crew visited the farm on Friday, the Sheriff had successfully evicted all the occupants. However, chaos reigned when a grader came to destroy the buildings with the settlers returning to the compound and attacking the Sheriff.
Former Goromonzi South legislator Petronella Kagonye was also moving around the area in her vehicle.
“I have been failing to occupy the farm for three times, despite a valid court order to evict the former farm workers. Each time I tried to move in, political bigwigs influence the farm workers to refuse to vacate. I legally acquired the farm and have since lost years of production. The grading factory is vandalised. I did not want to evict them, but they are refusing to work for a black person. I even offered them an alternative place to live, but they are refusing. I am happy that the “new dispensation” respects property rights and that this time I will productively use the farm,” Chauruka said.
By yesterday, the ex-farm workers were still living in the open.
According to documents seen by this paper, the ex-farm workers last month approached the High Court and filed an urgent court application seeking to bar the imminent eviction. However, the court threw out the application citing it as not urgent.
In 2012, the farm workers were thrown out of the farm, but moved back following the intervention of then President Robert Mugabe.
Goromonzi South has been a Zanu PF stronghold until last elections when Petronella Kagonye lost to the MDC Alliance by a wide margin.