Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
The High Court has settled the land dispute involving Bindura University of Science Education and S.O.S Children’s Village Association of Zimbabwe after ruling that the farm belongs to the university.
Bindura University and the NGO have been embroiled in a protracted wrangle over the farm with S.O.S Children’s Village claiming ownership.
After hearing the matter, Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled that the farm belonged to Bindura University and ordered the immediate vacation of the non-profit organisation.
“Applicant (Bindura University) is declared the lawful occupier of the whole of the subdivision of Glen Avilin Farm situated in Shamva District of Mashonaland Central Province measuring 534,61 hectares in extent,” he said.
“First and second respondents (S.O.S Children’s Village Association of Zimbabwe and the trustees of S.O.S Children’s Village Association of Zimbabwe) are hereby ordered to immediately vacate the farm together with all the persons who claim occupation through them, their employees, their personal effects, their personal belongings and chattels,” read part of the order.
The respondents were also ordered to pay the costs of the suit.
The piece of land in question was compulsorily acquired by the State and the acquisition was not set aside by a court.
According to the judgment, the land was offered to and accepted by the applicant for institutional agricultural use although the land remained vested in the State. “The applicant as holder of a valid offer letter which it accepted has a right to seek the eviction of any occupier by virtue of it being the offeree of the land and holder of an offer letter,” the judge said.
Justice Chitapi further said that the continued clinging onto the land by the respondents constitutes an act of defiance of the law.
He said the opposing affidavits by the respondents lacked merit. “They do not deny that there was a handover of the land to the applicant but aver that such handover was a nullity. It can only be a nullity if the acquisition is shown to have been reversed. They have not shown that the acquisition of the land in question was set aside by the law,” he said.
Mr Itai Ndudzo acted on behalf of the university while the S.O.S organisation was represented by Mr Tendai Toto.