By Kunashe Mukande
Land barons are wreaking havoc in Harare’s Budiriro high-density suburb and they recently invaded a space earmarked for Johane Masowe Nyenyedzinomwe apostolic members’ housing co-operative.
A handful of the church leadership’s representative council (Vadare or Vatariri) were ordered to vacate their worshipping site and threatened with death.
Narrating the horrific encounter with the land barons, an anonymous congregant said the hooligans pointed guns at them during prayer time and ordered them to vacate their shrine forthwith.
Such actions came despite a recent High Court order barring land barons from interfering with the church property in question.
The member said, “Honestly, I am left speechless on the development that we have just encountered at the hands of these land barons. I am a living testimony to the ruthlessness of these guys who were in possession of a small firearm.
“I know these guys since we used to congregate together since time immemorial. It’s surprising they are forcibly grabbing church properties. This is contrary to the founding principles, dictates, and values of the church.
“When the land barons arrived, they commanded us to crawl on the ground. They were brandishing a firearm. They boasted of strong connections with the police,” the congregant said.
The congregants are thanking God for saving them to see this day. The land barons said they have intentions to illegally settle people of their choice on residential stands owned by the members of the apostolic church. They said their actions have the blessings of the District Officer, Chiratidzo Dzama.
When contacted for a comment on the alleged association with land barons, Chiratidzo Dzama, the District officer could neither deny nor confirm the allegations.
Dzama said it is the prerogative of the law enforcement agents to bring the culprits to book and make decisive action which might be taken as a template for would-be perpetrators.
Dzama said, “Yes I can confirm that we work with the group on a professional basis and within the confinements of my area of operation as the district officer. Our relationship emanates from the office and ends there. I am not privy to the alleged shenanigans or acts of terrorism.
“Kindly contact the legal department on their alleged land scam. Concerning the case of producing a firearm to threaten members of the church in Budiriro, kindly inquire from the police if they lodged any complaints against the trio.
“Am neither a beneficiary to any alleged corrupt activities levelled against the trio,” Dzama said.
Meanwhile, investigations are underway to ascertain the authenticity of claims that one of the officers named Mlilo allegedly from the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission (ZACC) is a beneficiary of the illegal land scam in Budiriro.
Allegations are that the trio – Clifford Chimusoro, Taurayi Munyika and Muchineripi Utete were once members of the church. Their love for money reportedly has resulted in them illegally allocating home-seekers residential stands in wetlands, and on undesignated sites for sporting and recreation facilities.
The trio was not available to give their side of the story by the time of going to print.
The trio reportedly lost a High Court bid to invade the land. The court recognizes the church as bona fide owners of the property. The land barons are unrelenting in their quest to forcibly evict the church members through acts of banditry, ambush, and terror.
Information gathered by this publication’s investigations crew reliably observed that the group owns areas called Ebenezer 1 and 2. The land was earmarked for a community school and community centre.