By Daniel Nemukuyu
Villagers who lost property at Manzou Farm in Mazowe, through illegal evictions instigated by former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe last year, have started receiving compensation, with the first group of 14 receiving a combined figure of at least $30 000.
Forty-one villagers had their property destroyed when the police evicted them from their homes to pave way for the then First family to establish a game park.
The villagers were removed without any court order.
Some “defiant” villagers had their structures destroyed by police officers who were acting in the best interests of Mrs Mugabe.
The 41 victims sued the police at Bindura Civil Court and 14 of them have so far been awarded damages ranging between $1 000 and $5 700.
The 14, who were represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, appeared before three different magistrates – Miss Ruth Moyo, Ms Shelly Zvenyika and Ms Moreblessing Makati.
Leonard Mukoore, who has so far been awarded the highest figure, got $5 700, while King Masoka was awarded $2 650.
Esther Mushukuti and Alec Kamonera were granted $3 210 and $3 500, respectively, while Jona Zomba got $1 600.
Nine others were awarded varying figures, bringing the total damages for the 14 to more than $30 000.
Judgement in respect of the remaining 27 is expected this month.
During the hearings, the villagers said in January 2015, police officers arrived at Manzou Farm armed with guns and batons.
Without producing any court order, police officers ordered residents to leave the farm.
The Home Affairs minister and police Commissioner-General were accused by villagers of knowingly violating the Constitution in order to please the Mugabe family.
“The defendant’s actions were in clear violation of Section 74 of the Constitution, which provides that no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished without an order of the court made after considering relevant circumstances,” said the villagers in their application.
“These actions were in clear violation of the plaintiffs’ right to property under Section 71 of the Constitution.”
Mrs Mugabe used the police to evict the villagers to pave way for an animal sanctuary.