Villagers harassed and intimidated after seeking court order against soldiers

Villagers harassed and intimidated after seeking court order against soldiers
Published: 20 June 2015 (841 Views)
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Communications Manager Kumbirai Mafunda has said villagers in Gutu, Masvingo province are enduring intimidation and harassment from some soldiers after they petitioned the Gutu Magistrates Court seeking an order to stop the army from destroying their homesteads and crops.

"The villagers resorted to legal action after a group of soldiers from 4.2 Infantry Battalion located near Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu, Masvingo province invaded their farming plots at Chomufuli Farm and set their homesteads on fire before destroying their crops under circumstances which they could not comprehend," he said.

Through their lawyer Philip Shumba of Mutendi and Shumba Legal Practitioners, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the villagers cited Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and the Commander of 4.2 Infantry Battalion as the first and second respondents in their application.

"In an urgent chamber application filed on Tuesday 16 June 2015 at the Gutu Magistrates Court, the villagers charged that a group of soldiers stormed their plots at Chomufuli Farm early this month where they indiscriminately set their houses on fire including some crops which were at the ripening stage," said Mafunda.

"The villagers claimed that they sought refuge in the bush following the unprovoked raid by the soldiers and left behind their household property and livestock unattended."

He said on Wednesday 17 June 2015, the villagers charged that some senior army officers visited them after NewsDay, a local daily newspaper published an article detailing their plight.

"The villagers claimed that the army officers were peeved to learn that the villagers had engaged human rights lawyers to "fight" them and had dragged their "boss" Sekeramayi to court," he said.

"However, the villagers vowed to press ahead with the legal action as it is the only remedy to put some breaks to the violation of their fundamental rights."

Mafunda said meanwhile, Gutu Magistrate Resident Magistrate Edwin Marecha will on Wednesday 8 July 2015 hear the villagers' application after he determined that their case did not warrant to be heard on an urgent basis but as an ordinary application.

- Byo24News

Tags: Soldiers,
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