One of the co-owners of Esidakeni Farm, Charles Moyo was arrested on Wednesday in Bulawayo by police from Nyamandlovu who alleged the businessmen had unlawfully occupied a State-gazetted farm.
Moyo, co-owns Esidakeni, also known as Kershelmar Farms (Private) Limited with human rights advocate, Siphosami Malunga and lecturer Zephaniah Dhlamini but since 2020 have been shrugging off attempts from the State to grab the farm.
Moyo’s arrest comes a month after they won a Supreme Court challenge that ordered Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, Dr Obert Mpofu, to vacate the farm after losing an appeal against an earlier order made by the High Court last year.
Lawyer Josphat Tshuma, partner at Webb, Low and Barry confirmed Moyo’s arrest, describing it as a “desperate and vindictive move.”
“Yes, Moyo was arrested today. The police took him after lunch around 2pm. They said they were driving to Nyamandlovu. I don’t know whether they have arrived because that road is terrible. I don’t know whether he will sleep in custody or not. I will hear from him if they allow him to phone,” Tshuma said.
Tshuma said initially the police wanted to arrest Dhlamini but could not as he was off to present a lecture before a parliamentary portfolio in Kadoma.
“Just after lunch, two police officers arrived at the city club looking for Dhlamini, saying he was wanted in Nyamandlovu to give a warned and cautioned statement, whose charge was the unlawful occupation of Esidakeni, a farm that was gazetted,” he said.
“Fortunately, I was there and Dhlamini directed them to me since he was already on his way to Kadoma and is only coming back Saturday.”
Tshuma asked the officers why this case could not proceed by way of summons instead of taking him to Nyamandlovu.
The police officers then called their superior, Inspector Matange, the Officer-in-Charge at Nyamandlovu Police Station, said Tshuma.
“The police then went to look for Moyo who called me when I was now in the office, saying he had been arrested and on the way to Nyamandlovu. I asked why the police could not record a statement here in Bulawayo, they said he must be taken to Nyamandlovu -that was the instruction,” narrated the lawyer who called Inspector Matange on why they were not proceeding by way of summons since this matter was already in court.
Tshuma narrated that Esidakeni Farm was gazetted in 2020 yet his clients had already been farming since 2018.
“In 2021 they began to know Esidakeni had been gazetted by seeing people occupying it. They instituted an action at the High Court by way of a court application, seeking an order to set aside the gazetting on the basis that it was unlawful. We requested to know who the other people with an interest were but we weren’t given names,” he said.
“The names our clients knew of were Reason Mpofu, Mazithulela Gatsha and obviously the minister (of Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Matabeleland North, Richard Moyo) because it was his decision we were seeking to impede.”
Moyo and co, filed their application and those challenging filed their opposition papers and respective heads of arguments.
“We were working to be allocated a date but before that hearing date, Obert Mpofu, his wife and company Mswelangubo moved into the farm. We then made a series of applications to evict people who had moved into the farm (including another beneficiary, Charles Madzivanyathi – a lecturer at NUST) on the basis of having an offer letter,” Tshuma said.
“We got an order from the High Court for his eviction and order allowing Kelshermar, Dhlamini, Moyo and Malunga to take occupation of the farm pending finalisation of the main matter that order was granted by the High Court.”
Tshuma said Madzinvanyathi appealed to the Supreme Court and his appeal was dismissed but Dr Mpofu moved in.
“We made an application for Mpofu’s eviction, the order was granted by the High Court. Mpofu appealed to the Supreme Court saying he had an offer letter and the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal (last month). Therefore, the order of the High Court saying my clients should remain in the farm until the matter is finalised is extended,” stated the lawyer.
However, in the process of making sure that Dr Mpofu, his wife and Mswelangubo leave Esidakeni, two other people emerge and are the ones who went to Nyamandlovu Police Station to say Moyo and his partners illegally occupied the farm and are in breach of the law,” Tshuma noted.
“The law says once a farm has been gazetted and given notice you should move out in 30 days and if you fail to do so, have to go to a magistrate and if you are convicted, you can be ordered to go out. But the law has been interpreted to say the police can do that or you can make a court application that anyone with an offer letter can make an application,” he said noting that the main matter of challenging the gazetting was still pending.
“Until the main matter to determine whether the acquisition was proper or not, the people who should remain on the farm are Moyo, Dhlamini and Malunga.”