VILLAGERS who were ordered to vacate the Anglican Church-owned Irene Farm located along the Bulawayo-Matobo road in Matabeleland South province have approached the High Court challenging their eviction.
The church last week evicted nine villagers from the property following a High Court order directing them to vacate the farm.
However, the villagers Fidelis Ndlovu, Howard Madlungu, Dunmore Sithole Lovemore Sibanda, Eleck Mndlongwa, Sakuranda Khumalo, Nkosilamandla Mkhwananzi, George Mhlanga, and Mildred Sibanda through lawyers Vundhla-Phulu and Partners filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the eviction.
According to court papers, the Anglican Church, the Sheriff of the High Court, and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuku are the respondents.
“This is an urgent chamber application for stay of execution and a declaration that the land in question was acquired and thus does not belong to the first respondent (the Anglican Church Diocese of Matabeleland South) anymore,” Ndlovu, one of the applicants argues in his founding affidavit.
“During the initial stages of the fast-track land reform programme, I and the other applicants took occupation of Irene Farm before it was subsequently acquired for resettlement purposes by the government.”
Ndlovu and the other applicants are praying for an order which will declare the eviction unlawful.
The applicants also argue the eviction order obtained by the church is no longer effective since the disputed land had been acquired by the state.
“In any case, we draw our locus standi from the fact that we are as a matter of fact being evicted as we are de-facto occupying the land. Having settled in the year 2000, we cleared the land to prepare for tiling and fenced our fields,” said Ndlovu.
The respondents are yet to respond to the application.