Farmers to stand trial

The three white commercial farmers – Nigel Fawcett, Mackomic Russel and Gary Godfrey – also face charges of refusing to vacate their land after their farms were gazzetted for acquisition.

Fawcett (56) and Russel (51) reside at Kennelys Farm while Godfrey stays at Fountain Greaves farm, both in Nyamandlovu.

The trio who are represented by Advocate Tim Cherry will appear at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court.

Charges against the trio by the state are that they were found in possession of firearms that were at a gun cabinet at their farms on 17 July, 2010.

According to the state, the trio refused to handover gun cabinet keys to Nyamandlovu police who wanted to inspect the firearms, a move the police said posed a security threat to Zimbabwe.

For refusing to allow police to inspect firearms at their farms, the trio faces charges of contravening Section 13 (1) of the Firearms Act, Chapter 10:09.

Fawcett, Russel and Godfrey who also face charges of refusing to vacate their farms for the past three years stand accused of violating provisions of Section 3(2) as read with Section 3(3) of the Gazzetted Land (Consequential Provisions), Chapter 20:28.

According to the state, a 45 day notice issued to the three to vacate their farms after were gazzetted for acquisition expired on 4 February 2007. But they have for the past three years resisted attempts to leave their farms.

White commercial farmers continue to face court action for resisting attempts to vacate their farms under the agrarian reforms which began at the turn of the millennium.

Violent evictions of the last remaining white commercial farmers are still continuing despite the inclusive government having had called to an end to the farm disturbances.

An umbrella body of human rights groups has urged the government to publicly denounce the continuing lawlessness and violence in the key farming sector as one of the conditions of restoring the viability of commercial agriculture.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum says restoring the rule of law would enable the government to come up with a credible land reform programme that addresses historical imbalances and injustices of the 2000 fast track land reform process.

“The continued violation of property rights has negative impact on economic recovery,” a statement by the forum that is a coalition of 19 human rights groups recently said in part.