HARARE – A Zimbabwean court has ordered the eviction of 1 500 families after government conceded that it had illegally acquired Pieter Nicholas Nel’s Kingsdale farm in Norton.
The farm had been taken over by Kingsdale Housing Cooperative, forcing Nel to approach the Constitutional Court seeking an order compelling the families to vacate the premises.
In the application, Nel cited Lands and Rural Resettlement minister, Norton Town Council, Chegutu Rural District Council, Kingsdale Housing Cooperative and the Registrar of Deeds as respondents.
The respondents did not oppose the application, admitting that the farm had been improperly acquired.
Lewis Uriri, Nel’s lawyer, said the families were illegal occupants, but the cooperative, through its lawyers Willshy Nyakudanga and Nyengeterai Mangidza, said the families were bonafide purchasers of the land.
“It (cooperative) acquired the land lawfully from the ministry of Lands. The fourth respondent (Kingsdale Housing Cooperative) is an innocent third party,” Nyakudanga said.
He said Nel will be unjustly enriched because the families had serviced and surveyed the land, but Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said that did not give them title to build houses at the property.
Uriri said the families had refused to vacate the farm measuring 161 hectares and had constructed houses despite a High Court order prohibiting them to do so.
He further said they had refused to negotiate with Nel for a possible amicable settlement.
Uriri’s draft order sought to have the families vacate the farm immediately. Nyakudanga, however, told the court that it was not possible for the families to vacate forthwith, since they would need to first secure a place to settle.
He applied for the families to be given time to look for alternative places.
Chidyausiku said the families had no legal basis to remain at the farm, while deputy chief justice Luke Malaba added that the ministry of Lands did not have rights to give the land to anyone or to the cooperative.
Malaba said the cooperative cannot claim rights that do not exist.
Chidyausiku granted Nel’s eviction application, giving the families 30 days to comply with the order.