HARARE – Zanu PF legislator for Buhera South Joseph Chinotimba and his son, Edwin, have been dragged to the High Court by a white-owned company, which is demanding over $800 000 from the duo after they “forcibly” took over its farm in January 2015.
According to court papers filed last Thursday, prior to January 28, 2015, the company — H De Foiard Brown (Private) Limited —was the legitimate occupier of the property, carrying out farming activities as a business.
“On the 28th of January 2015, first and second defendants (Joseph and Edwin) forcibly removed plaintiff (H De Foiard Brown (Private) Limited) and its employees from the property when they had no right to do so. Second respondent (Edwin) remains in occupation of the property.
“As a result of the wrongful eviction of plaintiff, plaintiff has suffered damages in the sum of $842 400 being the prospective income which plaintiff would have earned…,” the court heard.
The company is now demanding the amount together with interest at the rate of five percent per annum from the date of service of the summons to the date of payment and the cost of the suit.
Chinotimba and his son have not yet responded to the summons.
The parliamentarian and his son were once given five days to vacate the farm by the High Court, before they successfully challenged the order in 2015. Chinotimba argued then that the order was granted in default.
The then High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu, who is now at the Supreme Court bench ordered Edwin to remain at the farm.
“It is accordingly ordered that the 2nd applicant (Edwin) be and is hereby declared to be the lawful occupier of certain piece of acquired State land being subdivision 5 Chihosa of subdivision A of Excelsior Hofstede in Chipinge District of Manicaland Province…in terms of his offer letter dated February 17, 2015,” Bhunu said then, before referring the disputed ownership of movable property to trial.
“Should either party be found to have used any property which is later determined by the court to belong to the other party, then, the user shall pay reasonable compensation for the use or replacement of the property,” he said.
According to Chinotimba, his son has been in occupation of the farm since December 2014 after being allocated the farm, which he argued is supported by a valid offer letter.
Chinotimba further told the court in 2015 that his son had spent a lot of money clearing the land which was lying idle after being gazetted by government.
“Second applicant (Edwin) has spent money on electricity and ten security officers to look after the macadamia nuts as they are prone to thieves,” Chinotimba said.