Six villagers in Chinyamukwakwa village in Chisumbanje, Manicaland province have been left nursing injuries sustained from a brutal assault perpetrated by police officers following a land ownership dispute involving Green Fuels Private Limited, the country’s ethanol producing company.
They were assaulted by anti-riot police officers last Tuesday while preparing their fields. The police officers, who were ferried to the villagers’ fields by vehicles belonging to Green Fuels Private Limited and used hoes to assault them, accused the villagers of trespassing into pieces of land of which the ethanol producer claims ownership.
One of the villagers was left wheel-chair bound as he could not walk as a result of injuries sustained from the brutal assault.
Touched by the plight of the villagers who were detained at Chisumbanje Police Station, Langton Mhungu and Peggy Tavagadza of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights requested that their clients be taken to hospital for medical examination and treatment as they had visible fresh and bleeding wounds.
The villagers only managed to have their wounds dressed at St Peters Mission Hospital after they could not access the resident medical doctor.
The six villagers Eddie Mabere aged 32, Maxwell Mutisi aged 33, Makaza Mugovera aged 42, Chipo Chiripiri aged 36, Vaina Ndlovu aged 43 and Prince Muyambo aged two years were charged with committing public violence, causing malicious damage to property and trespassing.
The villagers who came to court while crawling were released after their lawyers protested that their clients’ rights as enshrined in Section 50 (8) of the Constitution had been violated as their arrest and detention was illegal.
Prosecutors who checked the docket agreed with the lawyers’ observation that there were several inconsistent statements recorded from witnesses and hence the docket was referred back to the police station and the police were advised to hand over the docket to the prosecutors for consideration of evidence once they complete further investigations.
The State will now proceed by way of summons if it intends to prosecute the villagers. The Zimbabwean