Sipho Malunga and partners’ trial commences
The trial of the Kershelmar Farms (Private) Limited directors for illegally occupying Esidakeni farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North commenced Tuesday, at the Tsholotsho Magistrates court.
In the matter, the three partners Siphosami Malunga, Charles Moyo and Zephaniah Dhlamini are being represented by Josphat Tshuma of Webb Low and Barry.
The matter moved to trial after Matabeleland North provincial magistrate Victor Mpofu dismissed an application by Tshuma to except to the charges levelled against his clients.
Tshuma had argued that his clients were not yet in occupation of the farm which is at the centre of a wrangle and neither had they been served with an evacuation notice as provided for by the Constitution.
The lawyer had also argued that the Magistrate’s court should stay the matter until the High Court had ruled on pending cases relating to the matter.
Tshuma explained that the outcome of their High court application would put to rest all the other proceedings ongoing in the lower court.
Further to the dismissal of the application to except, Tshuma had made an application that the magistrate recuses himself from the matter but Mpofu ruled that the matter would proceed to trial.
The State, led by Deputy Prosecutor-General, Micheal Reza, led evidence from its first witness- Matabeleland North Provincial Lands Officer, Sunson Dodzi.
The matter was then postponed to November 22 for the continuation of the trial.
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 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.
Last week, the Sheriff of the High Court finally evicted Mpofu after months of defying court orders.