Lawyers lay siege to farm

Agustine Mukaro/Gift Phiri

INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo’s legal counsel Johannes Tomana and two colleagues – Wilson Manase and Joseph Mandizha, are allegedly blocking the movement of 120 tonnes of seed

maize from a farm they were offered in September under government’s sullied land reform programme.


Tomana, Manase and Mandizha moved onto Maryland Farm in the Darwendale/Trelawney area on September 19 this year, evicted the white commercial farmer and allegedly seized his equipment and personal belongings.


On the property there are also 90 tonnes of grain, 500 head of cattle, 97 sheep, eight race horses and farming equipment. The seed and grain were due to be delivered to Seed Co and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) when the three lawyers moved in.


Speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday, the evicted farmer, Pieter Gertenbach, said the lawyers prevented him moving his produce and equipment.


“We are still making frantic efforts to deliver the seed and grain to the marketing authorities,” Gertenbach said.


“We have been barred from getting to the farm which means that we can’t move our property and equipment valued at not less than $5 billion.” Gertenbach said the 1 300-hectare farm was diversified and highly-productive.


“Other than producing seed maize, we were also engaged in seed tobacco, flowers for export, horse breeding as well as cattle and sheep,” he said.

Tomana yesterday said he moved on to the farm after the expiry of a notice of compulsory acquisition.


“Gertenbach was served with a Section 8 (notice),” Tomana said. “His continued occupation became a violation of Section 8 and then he was served with a Section 9.


“I was offered the farm. And at the time I moved in, he had taken flight. I never seized anything and my movement on to the farm was procedural,” he said.


He denied that he was blocking the movement of any crops from the farm.

“Did he tell you that he has just finished moving his tobacco to the auction floor? Now he has been moving his seed maize,” said Tomana.


Gertenbach however maintained the three lawyers were helping themselves to household goods from the three farmhouses.


“They have broken into the farmhouses and looted all household goods, including food and furniture,” he said.


He said the lawyers had divided the farm into three plots and allocated themselves a house each.


The lawyers have also been accused of denying the animals, which include chickens, access to food and water. The animals were only rescued through the intervention of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).


SPCA national executive Merylin Harrison confirmed having visited the farm twice in the past week.


“Poultry and sheep were locked up in a building for two days without food or water,” Harrison said. “I insisted that I would not leave the property before they set the animals free. On my second visit to the farm the animals were being looked after.”