The trial of the Kershelmar Farms (Private) Limited directors who are accused of illegally occupying Esidakeni farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North continued Tuesday, at the Tsholotsho Magistrate court amid efforts by the defence counsel to challenge the accusations.
The matter is being heard before Matabeleland North provincial magistrate Victor Mpofu.
The trial continued with the State led by Deputy Prosecutor-General, Micheal Reza, leading evidence from its first witness- Matabeleland North Provincial Lands Officer, Sunson Dodzi.
Josphat Tshuma of Webb Low and Barry is representing the three partners Siphosami Malunga, Charles Moyo and Zephaniah Dhlamini.
In an interview with CITE, Tshuma said they made an application to the court to rule out the charges citing that the section that had been used to charge the accused was from the old Constitution.
“The magistrate dismissed our application and made us proceed with the trial. What we have done now is we have made two applications to the High Court. One is an urgent chamber application to stay the proceedings at the magistrate court and the other is to review the ruling which dismissed our application to except. Once the High Court processes our applications, we will then see how best to proceed with the matter,” Tshuma said.
The case is expected to be back in court on December 5.
The wrangle for the farm has been ongoing since 2020 when Lands Minister Anxious Masuka, through a state gazette, announced that the farm had been compulsorily acquired under section 72(2) of the constitution.
The trio have been fighting through the courts to keep the beneficiaries including Zanu PF secretary of administration Dr Obert Mpofu and his wife Sphathisiwe, a Nust lecturer Dumisani Madzivanyathi, among others off the farm.
In July, the trio won a Supreme Court case which ordered Mpofu to vacate Esidakeni.
However, they were later arrested on allegations of unlawful occupation of the farm and are currently out on bail.
In another civil matter related to the farm dispute, the Bulawayo High Court Justice Martin Makonese recently ordered Madzivanyathi, to pay US$340 000 to the trio for loss of potential income.
Upon occupation of the farm, Madzivanyathi allegedly tampered with the irrigation system and deprived water to various crops which were under irrigation resulting in 150,000 planted tomatoes and 65,000 butternut crops being destroyed.