By Innocent Ruwende
Police have arrested a suspected land baron behind the seizure of City of Harare paddocks at Crowborough Farm and illegally settling desperate home-seekers there.
Pedzisai Mutekedza, who also uses the alias Maregera, was arrested in a high speed chase with police on Sunday along Marimba-High Glen Road.
Police sources said a crack team from its District Office responsible for Glen View, Kuwadzana and Harare South was deployed to arrest the suspected infamous land baron.
Police are now looking to apprehend Mutekedza’s alleged accomplices Regina Mangwiro and Tafara Mugarisi.
Mutekedza will likely face charges of public violence, attempted murder, extortion and assault as he is also accused of attacking a building contractor with an axe and assaulting several individuals to illegally occupy the council land.
Mutekedza’s cases have been reported under RRB 3777134 and RRB 3758319, among other dockets opened against him and his alleged accomplices at Kuwadzana Police Station. He is expected to appear at Mbare Magistrates Court today.
The trio is allegedly behind the seizure of City of Harare paddocks, illegally settling desperate home-seekers and extorting money from the home-seekers.
Mutekedza is allegedly responsible for grabbing land from housing cooperatives and allocating it to his “chosen” group.
Mugarisi reportedly pretends to be a member of the security services, introducing himself as an army official or an officer from Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) when it suits him.
Mangwiro allegedly duped hundreds of desperate home-seekers of their money, promising them residential stands.
The trio allegedly scares those who complain by purporting that they are backed by Zanu-PF.
Police say the suspected criminals were aware of council’s likely decision to take action to repossess the paddocks and are in the process of invading other open spaces and building houses on them using funds obtained from desperate home-seekers.
In 2016, the illegal settlers occupying Crowborough Farm vandalised Harare City Council’s property that includes pipes and gate valves after the city started pumping waste water onto the two farms to irrigate pastures.
The squatters claim the water poses a health hazard to them and council has tried to evict them on several occasions without success.
President Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga recently called for an end to land barons and attempts to abuse the name of the ruling party in such self-enriching schemes.
Government is also moving to assert property rights which is a crucial pillar of President Mnangagwa’s economic policy geared towards ensuring Zimbabwe achieves middle income status by 2030. The Herald