By Tichaona Sibanda
10 January 2013
Fourteen villagers who were arrested in Chisumbanje following clashes with the police over a protracted land dispute, will appear in court on Friday facing charges of invading private property.
The villagers have since last week been trying to claim back their land, taken over by Macdom, the company running the multi-million dollar Ethanol plant.
This resulted in running battles with the police who ended up using tear gas and firing warning shots into the air to disperse the angry farmers.
Among the 14 in custody are two brothers, Jameson and Samson Mlambo, who the police claim are the ringleaders in the villagers’ quest to reclaim their land which they say was invaded by Billy Rautenbach who owns Macdom.
The MP for Chipinge South, Meki Makuyana, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday they had managed to secure the services of lawyers to represent the villagers in court.
The villagers, most of whom are cotton farmers, say Macdom illegally invaded their land and left them with nowhere to farm.
Following the clashes between the villagers and the police, MP Makuyana visited the area on Wednesday to try and ease the tension. He explained the situation is still highly volatile in Chisumbanje and that government needs to move fast to avert a ‘deadly’ confrontation between the farmers and the police.