Over 50 families were left homeless when one Ernest Chikambi, claiming to be closely linked to President Robert Mugabe, through the police demolished and burnt down their houses, fowl runs, crèche and gardens.
Ruthlessly thrown out of home
A short distance after Inkomo Barracks on the Harare Chinhoyi highway, before Paradise Farm, there is what might look like litter to a passer-by but after taking a closer look, it is broken property, partially burnt and strewn on the roadside. Paradise farm workers owned what now seems like litter.
The evicted people were born and raised on this farm. They know no other home apart from Paradise Farm.
Life before farm invasions
In 2000 the farm workers were issued with a letter that authorised their stay on the farm after the then farm owner, Phillip Veermark left in 2003. The letter is signed by Zvimba Rural District Council. According to the farm workers, they could afford to take their children to school and live decent lives.
Veermark was farming on 180 to 200 hectares and his produce included tobacco, maize, groundnuts, tomatoes, paprika and flowers. According to the evicted people there was never a day as employees under Veermark they went without food, never dreamt of unemployment and had guaranteed accommodation. This all changed on 8 September 2016 when police arrived with tear gas canisters and guns.
Misery after farm invasions
Chikambi arrived on the farm in 2006 and in 2015 he made claims that he had been given an offer letter and was the new owner of the land. That was when the threats of eviction started. Chikambi disregarded the documents that the farm workers were in possession of.
Chikambi is reportedly only using four hectares for maize production. The farm workers provided labour and were each paid with maize.
Without warning police officers with two lorries forcibly moved the farm workers out, loaded some of their goods and furniture before dumping it out on the road. What was left in their homes was gutted by fire.
The victims of eviction have no access to water, their food was lost in the fire. Their sources of livelihood, fowl runs and gardens, were damaged by fire as it spread through out their compound. Those receiving Anti Retroviral Viral drugs had their medical documents and medication lost in the fire too. The eviction has also taken its toll on school going children who are unable to attend classes although some of them are examination classes.
The state has an obligation to protect, fulfil and respect the rights of the evicted families. The rights to shelter, health, education, food, water and other social economic rights were violated by the evictions. The evictions were a clear violation of Section 74 of the Constitution, which guarantees citizens’ freedom from arbitrary eviction.