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3 700 Land Barons Arrested

Over 3 700 suspected land barons and squatters have been arrested with 985 convictions in the courts , while 3 360 cases are pending trial since January as the Government clamps down on the proliferation of illegal settlements across the country.

This comes at a time the Government has declared war on all land barons, warning that their days of illegally allocating land are over.

In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi commended the public for providing useful information to aid the ongoing and countrywide Government operation “No To Land Barons and Illegal Settlements on Land in either rural or urban setups.”

“As of February 12, 2024, a total of 3 775 suspects had been arrested with 985 convictions being made by the courts, while 3 360 cases are pending trial. Notable arrests have been made in Masvingo where 28 suspects were accounted for in Tokwane-Ngundu Resettlement.

“The suspects had illegally settled on the grazing lands without the authority of the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.”

Asst Comm Nyathi said over 100 suspected land barons had been arrested in Matabeleland South and over 20 in Mashonaland West.

“In Mashonaland West Province, Police in Karoi arrested 26 suspects who were occupying grazing lands and distributing gazetted land to their relatives at Lazy Five Farm.”

“Investigations carried out unearthed that the suspects were paying US$15 or maize equivalent, to the plot holders.

“In Matabeleland South, 123 suspects were arrested at Enyandeni Resettlement Area, Gwanda. The suspects settled themselves on the gazetted land without lawful authority.

“In Matabeleland North Province, Thulani Nzima aged (53) was arrested for illegal allocation of land in which he allocated six residential stands to desperate home seekers for payment in Siganda, Mbembeswana 1 Village, Nyamandlovu.

“Investigations carried out unearthed that the beneficiaries paid US$300 and R4 000to the suspect.”

Asst Comm Nyathi reiterated that the public should verify the status of any land before being settled or made to pay for the purported allocation or development.

“In the same venue, the public should feel free to report criminal activities by land barons at any nearest Police Station or National Complaints Desk on (0242) 703631 or WhatsApp on 0712 800 197.”

As Harare’s Mabelreign suburb battles squatters and illegal land allocation of the green ways, stretches of open land between each block of housing, Minister of Local Government and Public Works Winston Chitando yesterday had an all stakeholder engagement meeting in Mabelreign where land invasions have been taking place with council officials allegedly being victimised for trying to demolish the sprouting illegal structures.

He was accompanied by Deputy Minister and Permanent Secretary of Local Government and Public Works Dr John Basera and high level officials from the City of Harare, led by the Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume and met with some residents of Ward 16, which covers Mabelreign suburb.

“It has come to our attention that there are some people who are occupying these greenways without the requisite approval which is illegal.

“You cannot occupy State land without the necessary approval,” he said.

Minister Chitando made it clear that anyone involved in illegal land allocation, regardless of their status or social standing, will face the consequences of their actions.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that Government’s position is that it is illegal to parcel out State land or council land for whatever purpose, which responsibility is bestowed only on local planning authorities.

“It is also illegal, for any person who is not authorised by the Ministry or the Council, to sell, lease or offer a lease with option to purchase, of State land or Council land. All stakeholders are encouraged to work together to ensure that there is sanity in the greenways of Mabelreign.

“Illegal allocations of land in general and in urban areas, inclusive in greenways in Mabelreign.”

Minister Chitando also directed his Ministry and Council officials to finalise the preparation of the layout plan, which takes into account provisions in the Mabelreign Local Development Plan Number 20, which was approved by Harare City Council in October 2023.

Also read: Susan Sibanda Charged With Defrauding 149 People Of $21,000

The minister also issued a warning to gullible citizens about purchasing infill stands, stating that no land was being sold at the time.

“I urge all stakeholders in Harare Metropolitan Province to support the council to ensure that sanity is restored, the overall objective is to ensure that Mabelreign is a smart city. We would like all cities to be smart cities in line with vision 2030.”

ZiMetro

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