Tue, 20 Feb 2018 10:04:10 +0000
By BENNIE MUNDANDO
SUSPECTED Patriotic Front cadres have defied government orders to stop harassing a Barlastone farmer by continuing to trespass on his farm.
They have instead warned Mr Webster Mhango, who owns farm number 28/29 in Barlastone that they will not rest until they wrestle part of the farm because they had the backing of the Ministry of Lands.
The Ministry of Lands has however made it clear that it had never allowed anyone to encroach on anyone’s farm and that it will deal sternly with cadres who were in the habit of engaging in illegal activities while hiding in the name of the ministry. The dispute over the ownership of the land is between Mr. Mhango and a Ms Ketty Mwale, a squatter who has been contending that she owned one half of the farm. Mr. Mhango last week reported the matter to Matero police over continued criminal trespass by Ms. Mwale and other people whom she had allowed to illegally cultivate on the said land on account that she owned it.
A call-out was delivered to them on Monday but they ignored it.
On Saturday, the police arrested Ms. Mwale and the person she had allocated a portion of land to cultivate, identified as Josephine Phiri where Ms. Phiri allegedly insisted that Mr. Mhango did not own the entire farm but only half of it.
Narrating the development to the Daily Nation yesterday, Mr. Mhango’s wife said Ms. Phiri told police officers that she and Ms. Mwale had gone to the Ministry of Lands to check whether Mr. Mhango owned the twin farm and they discovered that he only owned half of the land.
“She told the police officers that we don’t own the twin farm as they had pursued the matter at the ministry where they discovered that we only own half of it but when they were asked to produce title to the land they were claiming, they said they only had an offer letter by the ministry.
Ms. Phiri again named one of the officers, Chazya Silwimba, as the person who told them that the said land is not occupied and that they confirmed with the minister herself.
The police warned them against criminal trespass and released them on the same day but today (Monday) Ms. Phiri came with some people and started harvesting guavas from our orchard.
“When I asked her why she was doing so, she started shouting at me. Luckily, the ward councillor, Kelvin Kaunda, came here and he went to approach her but she maintained that we did not own the land. She did not produce any documents to back her claims. I have started believing that these people have the backing of certain individuals from the ministry because you cannot have a situation where land which was titled a long time ago can be on offer letter today. Something fishy is going on,” Ms. Mhango complained.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr. Kaunda proved futile as his phone was switched off while Ms. Phiri had already left the farm by the time the Daily Nation got there.
Minister of Lands Jean Kapata late last year visited the area and said the ministry would investigate the matter thoroughly to establish the ownership of the disputed farm but warned that she will deal sternly with anyone using her office to commit illegalities.
Officers from Matero police station and the ward councillor are expected to go to the farm today at 10:00 hours to investigate the matter.