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18 PWDs evicted from agricultural land

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18 PWDs evicted from agricultural land



CHIREDZI – Eighteen People with Disabilities (PWD) and other vulnerable persons are stranded after they were evicted from a piece of agricultural land that they were allocated and stayed on for 16 years since 2008.
The 18 who are members of Nhakayavatema Co-operative were evicted through a ruling made by Magistrate Vimbai Mutukwa on January 25, 2024. The ruling came following an application for the eviction which was made by a lawyer named Daison Chirima who claims to be the legitimate owner of the piece of land.
The eviction itself was effected on January 25, 2024. Some of the evicted members are now staying at the bus rank and on street pavements.
The types of disabilities among the 18 include those who walk with crutches, amputees, and those who are wheelchair-bound.
The chairman of the co-operative, Chimbidzikayi Dzinavatonga who uses crutches because one of his legs was amputated. He told The Mirror that the co-operative got the land from Zanu PF in 2008. He said they have legitimate papers of ownership of the 2.385-hectare piece of land situated at SD33 Hippo Valley North and signed for by former Chiredzi Town Council Environmental Officer, Edson Nyadenga and they have been farming on the land for the last 16 years and this was the only source of living for them.
The documents that entitles the co-operative to the land reads in part, “This letter confirms that Nhakayavatema could go ahead and grow crops. The matter has been discussed and digested by our management therefore we recommend for the commencement of the farming project”.
He said that since the eviction, most members are starving and they have resorted to begging in town for survival.
Chiredzi Town Secretary, Engineer Wesley Kauma said the land belongs to Tongaat Huletts and council cannot offer title deeds for it.
“This was a temporary measure to alleviate poverty. Council does not own the piece of land and the then environmental officer signed the document because the group was recycling effluent water for its agricultural projects. It fell under his office,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Chirima who claims to be the owner of the land ere futile.
Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Anxious Masuka were futile.
“We find ourselves in a dire predicament. We were forcibly removed from the land where we made a living by cultivating. The majority of the co-operative members are disabled and they now have no source of income. Most have entered the CBD where they beg at the bus terminus,” said Dzinavatonga.
The Mirror is in possession of the letter of approval issued by Chiredzi Town Council, which confirms that Nhakayavatema Cooperative can proceed with cultivating crops including wheat, maize, beans, peas, okra, rice, sweet potato (seed), and vegetables using community waste water. The council’s Environment Officer signed the letter of approval on September 23, 2008.
Dzinavatonga informed The Mirror that their eviction from the land was instigated by a local lawyer named Dyson Chirima in 2021. He claimed ownership of the land utilized by the cooperative.
“In the year 2021, a legal practitioner named Chirima claimed ownership of the land and one day while I was tending to my garden, he physically assaulted me which resulted in injuries. Despite reporting the matter, justice was not served due to his influential status as a lawyer. Unfortunately, it did not end there, in 2022 he also assaulted my wife with a machete but nothing was done to him despite reporting the matter to the police.” Said Dzinavatonga.
Dzinavatonga who has eight children and a wife said he is now wallowing in poverty as he no longer has any source of income. He appealed to Government to give the land back to the co-operative.
Another PWD, Alexious Makumire who is 78 said he is stranded and has nowhere to turn to since his only source of income has been taken.
“My situation is pathetic, I have children and grandchildren who need to be fed. I no longer have a source of income,” said Makumire.
Ellen Nyadzengo who is also a member of the cooperative said she is devastated by the court’s ruling.
“We were ordered not to set foot on the garden yet we had planted crops. Our maize is ready for harvest but we cannot go there because we were barred from setting foot there, even our hoes were left there,” said Nyadzengo.

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